Ayumi Hamasaki – FIVE

September 6, 2011 at 5:19 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – FIVE

1. progress
2. ANother song feat. URATA NAOYA
3. Why… feat. JUNO
4. beloved
5. BRILLIANTE
6. Why… feat. URATA NAOYA
7. beloved (Orchestra version)

♦ ♦ ♦

FIVE is Hamasaki Ayumi’s second mini-album. It was released in three editions : a CD+DVD edition, a CD-Only edition, and a limited CD-Only edition containing an access card to download a character costume for the PS3 game “Tales of Xillia”. First pressings of the CD+DVD edition included a serial number to access a special website broadcasting the making-of movie of “ayumi hamasaki COUNTDOWN LIVE 2010-2011 A ~do it again~” in streaming. The song “progress” was used as the theme song of “Tales of Xillia”.

It’s been awhile since my last post, and this album has been released a week ago already so I’m a little behind on this one, I know. But I am totally excited by this new mini-album by Ayu. progress is a nice mysterious song and personally I think it also could’ve fit onto her last album concidering the ambience. I really like it, the only thing I’m a bit on the fence with is the sudden pace change from ballad into rock song, there was no actual transition. But as soon as that was over, the song started to grow on me more and more.

Once I heard Ayu was doing some collaborations on this album, I was even more excited because she doesn’t really collaborate much. And then I almost fell off my chair as soon as I heard ANother song feat. URATA NAOYA is actually an R&B song! Seems like NAOYA is repaying his dept from ‘Dream ON’, on which Ayu collaborated. I enjoyed both their vocal performances here, really well done, and funny enough Ayu found her way into this splendidly.

I loved the piano intro leading into Why… feat. JUNO, and just as I expected we are back at the more rockish sound. No matter how much I liked the previous collab, Ayu and JUNO sound a little better together because they both have relatively light voices. The orchestral elements in the song were kinda like in <em>progress</em>, but nonetheless this song has its own unique spin on the arrangement.

I heard a full preview of beloved a few weeks ago and I must say I adored the song right away because of the piano, sweeping strings and Ayu’s lovely singing melody. It touched me much more than progress did a few months ago (when I heard only a minute of it). This is the heartfelt power ballad on the album, and definitely one of the best songs too. Untill…

BRILLIANTE comes in with all its mystery, chanting and grandness. I know it’s just me but this reminds me so much of my visit to Rome where I visited the Vatican. I really don’t know why I like this one so much, perhaps because of that chanting (it especially gives me goosebumps in the chorus) or the slightly difficult arrangement. Most of the time I’m not into this type of chanting and it tends to get on  my nerves after a while, but here it doesn’t at all. Even though it’s very prominantly featured. I don’t get the ending though…

Surprise surprise, NAOYA is back for Why… feat. URATA NAOYA in a very different arrangement. While the original version was a rock song, this is an R&B version again. They sound better here than on ANother song if I really have to choose, and the altered vocals in the hook are nice additions as well. Better version of the two.

The last song is beloved (Orchestra version). No piano this time (at least in the introduction), just strings and a harp, and I have to admit I like the original version more because it has a little more spice to it.

I have been soooo excited for this album for more than a month, even before she announced it would be released (partly because of the announcement of progress) and after a good listen it didn’t diappoint me at all. I think of Ayu as a talented singer, versatile and she tends to make mysterious songs once in a while. She showed it once again with this mini-album. It’s a nice follow-up to Love songs because some songs have the same kind of arrangement or feel. The collaborations (the very first I ever saw on an Ayu album) were very well done too. Big thumbs up for this one, Ayu made me proud!

Favorite songs: ANother song feat. URATA NAOYA | beloved | BRILLIANTE | Why… feat. URATA NAOYA

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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