Namie Amuro – Past < Future

August 21, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Past < Future

1. FAST CAR
2. COPY THAT
3. LOVE GAME
4. Bad Habit
5. Steal my Night
6. FIRST TIMER feat DOBERMAN INC
7. WILD
8. Dr.
9. Shut Up
10. MY LOVE
11. The Meaning Of Us
12. Defend Love

♦ ♦ ♦

Past < Future is Japanese singer Namie Amuro’s 8th album, and it was released on December 16, 2009. She considers this album as a new start after the ‘Best Fiction’ era. The album sold 310,323 copies in only six days after the release in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

RETRO! The brassy elements in FAST CAR remind me a little of the introduction of The Muppet Show, but that’s a little too far fetched xD But this a very fierce and good track to say the least, since I can finally hear Namie can actually sing (in comparison to her debut album). Her sound appeals to me very much, and she gives the track such a sense of fire.

Back to the roaring 50s with COPY THAT. This song sounds almost like tribute to 1950s spy series: electric guitars, handclaps, aan addictive percussion beat and sweet vocals all over. Namie proves to be a singer for a reason with some crazy adlibs. It’s only that sometimes her singing is so soft compared to the music, and I could swear I heard her say ‘copy cat’ instead of ‘copy that’…? I must be going all deaf.

Namie’s hip-pop returns with LOVE GAME, so it sounds similar to some work she released before. She sets some good vocals here, but this isn’t a standout track for me. The rhythm tends to get a little flat sometimes, though her vocals appear to be swell again. This seems like a ‘Past’ song to me, since I didn’t like all of her previous songs from the past.

Wow, Bad Habit starts off strange, funny, weird and nice all at the same time! The beat is all fun, and if you’re doing other stuff while listening to this song, it’s the beat you’ll still remember (believe me, I tried). Namie throws in some of her rhymes from the ‘Style’-era (2003), so this definitly brings back some good memories (since I like the song Namie’s Style from that album). The vocoder additions on her voice are cool as well.

Steal my night displays more of a Latin feeling in the introduction, before it transitions into more of a hip-pop/synth pop style. Once in a while the Spanish guitar returns in the chorus, but in general this track sticks to the genre of the previous two songs. I really like that, since it shows this style really fits her and this is her identity as a singer and performer.

Then FIRST TIMER feat DOBERMAN INC. is pure chaos concerning the musical arrangement. I can’t feel the beat, and if they had added a little more bounce to it, this could truly have been a good song. In the verses, this DOBERMAN INC. person sounds quite okay, but in the chorus, he screws everything up entirely. The bridge is terrible, so no, I’m not digging this.

Yeaaaaah. WILD is bursting with energy after the terrible previous track, and this pulls me right off my lazy behind again. Pretty vocals, classy even, bouncy synths, a good uptempo beat that’s not too quick and some perfect effects in the music that remind me a bit of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face! This is a make up for Namie after FIRST TIMER.

What the hell is going on with Dr.? The synthesizers in the verses are pretty cool, really, but then the chorus… OMG, is this Bohemian Rhapsody 2.0? It really seems like it because of the variety of styles, instruments and musical arrangements in this track. The verses are synth pop with a little piano in the back, with a bouncy perucussion beat, but the chorus is a total 180 from that with bombastic drama and some… weird lyrics… Playful, I feel guilty for liking this xD

Shut Up is one hell of a catchy song! I call the chorus ‘typically likeable’, because the melody instantly appeals to me, and I’m proud of Namie for that. It’s the living example of her improving herself all the time. Synthesizers, vocoders, a sexy percussion rhythm, guitars and sometimes an electric guitar blend this song into one of the best tracks on this album.

The hip-pop is back for a moment with MY LOVE. A smooth R&B track with a reaaaally likeable beat construction. It’s the typical kind of beat that appeals to me, and this is almost like a daydream song. I have nothing more to say here, it’s all so clear: this song is pure AWESOME.

Finally a ballad on this album: Meaning of Us is a definite surprise from heaven with an ambient piano sound and the most perfect vocals from Namie you can imagine. I’m getting all goosebumps here, gee! The feeling and emotion really get to me, even though I don’t understand a word she’s singing. Singing qualities can make or break a singer, and this truly MADE Namie. If you ask me, Avex can throw this on us as her signature song!

Up out of my seat with Defend Love one last time, a track that can easily be played in a disco. It’s kinda cathcy, but is a little less interesting after all the previous standout tracks. Still, this isn’t a bad song. The bouncy and poppy musical arrangement from the first two songs return for an encore, and it closes the whole with a big BANG.

Past < Future is an album that can easily be played any time you want. All tracks have their own value they can add to this album, and although Namie experimented with styles here and there, like synth pop, her ol’ reliable hip-pop returns now and then. She sticks to her roots, but is also willing to take risks for a new sound. So the title for this album is in one word perfect. All of the tracks, FIRST TIMER feat DOBERMAN INC excluded though, are very good, in other words: almost the entire second part of the album. I think I’m going to sit down to review more of her work as soon as possible!

Favorite tracks: FAST CAR | WILD | Dr. | Shut Up | MY LOVE | Meaning of Us

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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