The long wait between DIV's incredible debut album to their sophomoric follow up has ended. SECRET is the jam-packed album that fans have been waiting for ever since October of 2013, but did the album really meet fan expectation? It's a good question to ask considering the mixed reaction once the track list was finally revealed. The single most common thing I have heard asked about this album is "Why are there SO many singles?" This is a question that I feel can be answered quite efficiently and without any further ado.

1. Ai no Uta
2. Secret Night
3. Butterfly Dreamer
4. Justice
5. Rage
6. Golden Kinema Gekijou
7. Story
8. Hyouryuu Kanojo
9. You
10. Taste of Life
11. Wing to Heaven
12. Dearest
13. Stars
14. Point of View

Not to draw comparisons between a debut and a follow up so quickly, but the first major difference between these albums comes in track one. Fans can recall that Zero One opened with the magnificent track "Vanish" which started slow, but quickly became an absolutely incredibly composed song with great lyrics and some of the best rhythms I've ever heard. On the other hand, SECRET starts with "Ai no Uta," a song which features pretty vocals on Chisa's part, but that's about it. The length doesn't quite justify an "intro" title and definitely doesn't set up the mood for the rest of the album. SECRET as a whole has a brighter feel to it, but "Ai no Uta" is somber and very downplayed. Had they increased the length of this song and added something genuinely interesting, the song would've been great. 

Following the album opener are three single tracks: "Secret Night," the promo song for the album; "Butterfly Dreamer," one of two singles released pre-spring last year; and "Justice," the B-Side to their SID tribute single. Most fans are familiar enough with these songs at this point, especially "Butterfly Dreamer" as it is one of the older songs on the album and totally drips with classic DIV elements such as heavy rhythm guitar, a general uplifting atmosphere, very small amounts of harsh vocals, and clean vocals that make your heart melt. "Secret Night" varies slightly from this typical formula, however. The song is heavily influenced by electronic dance music or dubstep. First and foremost, you hear some female vocals which are extremely uncommon in DIV songs and almost seems like an homage to the GazettE, who famously use female vocals. The segment of this song that differentiates it most on the album is the breakdown around 2 minutes in. Now following these two tracks is the most puzzling addition to the album: "Justice." While I can understand why they would put this original song on the album instead of tribute song "Mousou Nikki," this track is far from the best B-Side of this era. It's a pretty typical song in that it uses a light amount of electronic influences and a mix of clean and harsh vocals, but if I'm being honest there are at least 3 B-Sides from this era that would have fit the mood of this album better and stuck out amidst so many uptempo electro rock songs. 

Track 5 brings back the original music with "Rage." Despite the title, it isn't quite as heavy as you would think. Mostly the song follows a typical DIV formula in that it's pop/rock with some heavier and/or electronic influences. The hardest part of the song is the breakdown around 2:20 which has great rhythm and energy, but then quickly becomes pop/rock again. There is also a brief segment earlier on in the song where Chisa utilizes his harsh vocals for a number of bars. These two parts are what make the song special and different than "Justice," but still doesn't qualify it as one of the best songs on the album. The next song was one of the more controversial single choices as it came out even before their first album and it was a song that not a lot of fans cared for in the first place. "Golden Kinema Gekijou" is kind of like 3 songs rolled into one. It starts out with a jazzy feel that almost immediately transforms into a several-second breakdown of heavy drums and harsh vocals and then transforms once again into a jazz-inspired pop/rock tune. While the chorus shows off Chisa's incredible vocals, the rest of the song is arranged poorly and overall not their best work. The first half of the album is ended with ballad song "Story." DIV is not a band who tackles the ballad very often. Their songs almost always have huge power to them because their strength is in their energy and charisma, not necessarily in their emotion. While the song is pretty and Chisa sounds lovely, it doesn't show off the talents of any other member in that the composition is incredibly basic and devoid of interest. This is likely to show the raw emotion of the song, but it just doesn't feel right on an album of such high-energy material. 

The second half of the album starts off with three more single tracks that I won't spend a lot of time on. "Hyouryuu Kanojo" is their most interesting single to date in that it is more of a ballad than most of their singles, but has composition choices so different that the genre borders on adult contemporary. "You" has been described as generic in that it really isn't anything to write home about in terms of lyrical content or composition, but what I found to be important about this track is that it's a fun song with great vocal talent and it's very easy to listen to. Chisa doesn't over-sing anything here, there's no screaming or otherwise harsh vocals, no heavy breakdowns or beats, but the song keeps your attention just in the old-fashioned playing of guitars and singing without any tricks. "Taste of Life" is the oldest single on the album and is a fan favorite, for sure. Everyone who even likes DIV has heard the catchy summer song that is "Taste of Life" and seen it's incredibly amusing music video (and if you somehow haven't seen it please, please watch it here). Seriously, even with how dramatically overplayed this song is on my iTunes, it is still one of their best songs. 

The best and most intriguing part of the album comes immediately after the barrage of singles. To start it all off is "Wing to Heaven," a beautifully composed song that could be considered a power-ballad. While the song isn't particularly high energy, it's far from slow. It's somewhere in the mid-tempo range while still being incredibly uplifting and bright. The song starts off with one of their best guitar solos to date and then the song carries itself through to the end in a very typical pop/rock fashion that is both DIV and not-DIV (a point I will touch on in a minute). "Dearest" is more uptempo and less power-ballad than "Wing to Heaven," but just as uplifting. The best aspect of this song is possibly the heavily autotuned "woah woah woah" bits. It's overall just a very fun, summer song that uses heavy synth not just to distort Chisa's voice, but to actually add to the composition which doesn't have a plethora of guitar and drums except for around the 2:20 mark. The final new song on the album is "Stars" which also starts off with a spectacular guitar solo a la "Wing to Heaven," but more like "Dearest" in that it isn't a power ballad, but a fun electro-rock song with a bright, happy atmosphere. The way that this one differentiates itself from the previous two is that it has the power of "Wing to Heaven" and the pure joy of "Dearest" without any vocal tricks and less of an electronic influence. 

The album comes to a conclusion with "Point of View," another single and another fan favorite. Say what you will about how many singles were on this album, but you have to admit this is the album with the most varied of them. Where "Golden Kinema Gekijou" was a heavy rock/jazz crossover and "Hyouryuu Kanojo" was an adult contemporary-meets-pop/rock concoction, "Point of View" brings classic rock into the modern era. Like "You" there isn't much, if any, electronic influence. It focuses on the band members playing their instruments and singing.

Earlier when I had said that some songs are both DIV and not-DIV at the same time I meant that an album like this is so different from previous material recorded for Zero One which had a lot of darker elements, or at least heavier in terms of electronic production and rhythm. I feel like SECRET could be the feel-good album of the year and perfect to be released just in time for Spring. I would recommend this album more to casual fans of the band or to individuals who really want to try out the band to see if they like it because super fans have already heard over half the album. 

Please support the band by purchasing SECRET here and do yourself an enormous favor and purchase Zero One from Japanese iTunes, you won't regret it.
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