Koda Kumi – grow into one

2012/05/13 at 6:38 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Koda Kumi – grow into one

1. Teaser feat. Clench & Blistah
2. real Emotion
3. BOY FRIEND?
4. Your only one
5. one
6. One night romance
7. 1000の言葉 (Original Mix)
8. S.O.S. ~sound of silence~
9. m・a・z・e
10. 乱反射
11. Nasty girl
12. To be one
13. love across the ocean
14. 1000の言葉 [Alternate Orchestra Version]

♦ ♦ ♦

grow into one is the second album by Japanese singer Koda Kumi, released on March 19, 2003. It reached #8 on the Oricon charts, charted for 43 weeks and sold 188,666 copies.

Teaser feat. Clench & Blistah is a very different introduction than ‘atomic energy’ was for her first album ‘affection’. This track is a quite agressive R&B track with more raps from Clench & Blistah then singing from Kuu, but it was pretty fierce so I didn’t mind at all.

I think real Emotion should be renamed to ‘What can I do for you?’, because that line is repeated throughout the song and it gets pretty irritating after a while. Still the rest of the song is pretty enjoyable, it’s totally unlike the introduction but still, finally Kuu appears and her vocals on this track are very good. Both the chorus and bridge are the best parts of the song, that guitar solo rocked.

The next track takes a little more after the R&B sound of the first track, but BOY FRIEND? is a lot smoother and slower. It also reminds me a bit of a more American style of R&B around that time. That makes the music quite appealing, but then again after a while it starts to feel like a filler track to me with no real highlights and a lot of repetition. Some of the hooks are pretty interesting, so… I don’t reallt know where I stand with this one.

Now come the what I call three ‘one-songs’ (just look at the titles of the next three tracks and you’ll know what I mean). Your only one is the first ballad track on this album and I found the flute introduction surprising, and fun too. Kuu’s vocals are very intimate in the verses, but in the chorus she sings with a bit more emotion in her voice. That goes great with the amazing melody in that part, it sounds really pretty to me. An underestimated track, seriously, so what if it’s slow and peaceful?

To me, one was the better track of the m・a・z・e single, a sexy synth filled song with some really good vocals by Kuu. I always like it when she uses her lower register in her songs, and she does it a lot in this track which gives the song a fiercer attitude. They should’ve left out the random rap section imo, or they at least should’ve let Kuu done something like that because, I have to admit, a rap section fit this urban song perfectly. The rap that was featured was just a little… weird.

One night romance is one of the songs that’s actually memorable despite not being a single. Some parts in this song just give me ‘Oops! I Did It Again’ creeps, especially when Kuu sings ‘hey yeah-yeah-yeah‘ just like Britney does in her own song! o.O Regardless, both the harp introduction and the acoustic guitar riffs throughout the song were really cute and in contrast with the bit more agressive beat and electric guitar riffs.

And there’s the masterpiece of the album: 1000の言葉 (Original Mix). I really love how it starts off so mysterious and simple, and then the piano, soft beat, bells and acoustic guitar build around it. Kuu’s vocals are also very quiet and lower picthed, but she manages to build up the emotion in her vocals as well. Damn I love that acoustic guitar, best song of the entire album if you ask me.

After a ballad track Kuu goes right back into the funky stuff with S.O.S. ~sound of silence~, it’s a nice beat centered track with a lot of great synth accompanying that explosion of beats. The arrangement of the song is very typical American R&B style, but Kuu carries the chorus with a lot of attitude so it still becomes a unique track in the end. Totally forgot how good it actually is.

When it comes to the arrangement, m・a・z・e and S.O.S. ~sound of silence~ are pretty similar because both are really R&B beat centered. The difference between the two track is that m・a・z・e has a more bombastic feel to it and Kuu’s vocals are much louder in the chorus. It’s almost like she took the previous song to the next level, and this one was the result. Pretty good track, has to grow on me at first though.

乱反射 actually starts off very mysterious with the bass and strings arrangement, and after that the song keeps centering on both instruments. I’m a bit on the fence with this track due to some pretty boring parts, but at some points the arrangement drew my attention with the nice strings section in the bridge and small synth riffs in the background of the song.

Pearl Moon is, ofcourse, the next ballad track, and it surprised me it was an all-piano ballad but the intimacy was just what the album needed at this point. This track sounded like a real test for Kumi’s vocals to me here, but she passed it because she really let in the emotion witout losing control of her vocals. It’s a nice track, but not as epic as 1000の言葉 and I might end up using this as my lullaby. Depending on my mood (and how tired I am, haha), I will either like this song or snore to it.

When I saw the title for Nasty girl, I didn’t expect some kind of Southern song with a borderline country style. The harmonica in the song was a nice addition, but it sounded a little bit weird and too loud at some points. The piano was funky, it spiced the song up a bit but all the while I keep having the strange feeling this is a typical filler track. Not terrible though.

Another song with the word ‘one’ in it? Oh come on Kuu… Still To be one is a pretty hot dance track with a fast beat and some really nice strings arrangements to add more dynamics to it. Kuu herself sounds less bored than in the last track, thank God for that. It’s a fun track and almost like an early version of songs like ‘Lady Go!’, which I absolutely love.

The first single as the last track, love across the ocean. I’d say it’s the better of the last three songs, they all have a similar kickass sound but this track had much more personality and spice to it. I like it even better than I did before, now that it comes after Nasty girl and To be one.

At first I thought grow into one would be slightly better than her debut album, but after the first half it kinda took another turn. Not for the worst, but there were some tracks I found quite filler-ish. The first half however only had few flaws so I enjoyed that part most of all. Kumi showed a little change of style on this album already, she still had some dance tracks but her style became more urban after this. Some tracks on this album that weren’t singles were still memorable because they had very catchy choruses, hooks or arrangements, or at least something very unique. So she deserves some credit for it, this album was better than I thought it was gonna be.

Favorite tracks: real Emotion | Your only one | one | 1000の言葉 (Original Mix) | Pearl Moon | love across the ocean

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

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