Meisa Kuroki – UNLOCKED

February 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Posted in Meisa Kuroki | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Meisa Kuroki – UNLOCKED

1. Hit the Road
2. Shake it Off
3. Wired Life
4. One More Drama
5. Take Me Away
6. Flash Light
7. Woman’s Worth
8. Breeze Out
9. LAST CODE
10. Happy to be ME
11. PARADE
12. S.O.S-ワタシサガサナイデクダサイ-
13. UPGRADE U!
14. 曖昧で贅沢な欲望

♦ ♦ ♦

 UNLOCKEDis the second album by Japanese singer Meisa Kuroki. It was released on February 15, 2012 in three versions: a regular version and two limited edition versions. It charted at #18 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and it has sold 5,862 albums to date. It is expected to be her last album before her hiatus, due to her pregnancy.

Hit the Road is a very cheerful song and I love how it starts with the classic instrument: piano. The soft synths and beats drop in later so it kind of builds into a light yet strong track. I’m not going to talk about Meisa’s vocals much, but right now in general. And I will always say that I don’t exactly love her vocals. They don’t have that much depth and emotion but still she has a certain something. This opening track though is quite enjoyable, it already sounds better than MAGAZINE.

Shake it Off is edgier than the opening track but I kept having the feeling throughout the song that something was missing. That something would be a gigantic bass beat, so it’s kind of a shame that it’s not there. It makes the song sound so simplistic. But I can feel Meisa when she sings ‘I wanna dance now […] shake shake shake it now‘, it’s a nice track to dance to if you wanna look at it that way.

The first single I encounter is Wired Life and I thank God on my knees it’s not that version with Rin Okumura (don’t shoot me). It’s not her best song ever but I do think it’s one of the better. It has that great sense of mystery and subtleness, and I don’t know why but both Meisa’s vocals and the kind of track she delivers here reminds me a little of Namie Amuro.

Another hard club banger is One More Drama, but the Spanish guitar that opens the song adds a great contrast to the arrangement of the song. Vocally Meisa did a better job than usual, and being the first single for this new album she really put herself in the picture with this track. I said before that she’s going Kuu with this song and I still stick to that. It’s a very nice kickass song with lots of prominant synths and beats.

Take Me Away is a very cute song and a real surprise to me, but I have to say the frequent use of autotune irritates me. It’s like Meisa can’t sing and relies on just autotune because of that. But then again if you don’t notice, it makes the song about ten times more enjoyable. This track surprised me because of the little R&B elements in the beat yet it still has a good synth arrangement. The song screams ‘FAKE’ when it comes to vocals, but the song as a whole is pretty enjoyable.

Is she going BENI with Flash Light? Well, if you ask me she’s coming pretty close to my favorite singer. Considering the music, that is. Flash Light is a light pop/R&B song with some cute little elements in there like bells and high pitched synths. The song is just kinda there, it’s cute but I’ve heard songs like this before. Still: not from Meisa. Extra points for this one? Well okay Meisa here you go.

Woman’s Worth is another pumping song but this one stands out due to its unique and nice vibe. I don’t know what ‘Womanza wold‘ means, Meisa, but other than that it’s a nice A-side. Meisa has released many uptempo songs but I must say this one stands out.

Breeze Out is the sister song to Woman’s World and it’s just as hot but it features more brassy elements than any other song I’m used from Meisa. I think I still enjoy this one more than the previous song because of that unique elements, plus the fact that Meisa raps some of her lyrics. It gives the song a sense of ‘oompfh’, if you know what I mean. It’s very sexy and strong. Only Meisa’s high note is a ‘FAKE’ screamer but who cares xD

Finally a slower song, LAST CODE, and I almost didn’t recognize the singer as Meisa! She sings in a for her sense high voice, and I don’t know if it’s really her vocal capability or if the autotuner is her best friend but she sounds fabulous to be honest. It’s not a track that’s rich of melodies, it’s very plain and simple but I love the deep bass sound and the fact that it’s a slow R&B track instead of a club banger. The album really needed LAST CODE.

Happy to be ME features some of the same elements as LAST CODE, such as the sultry R&B mood and Meisa’s higher pitched vocals. I think it would’ve been better if the two songs were a bit more spread, because now we have 8 clubbing songs in a row and then suddenly two very different R&B songs. Regardless, Happy to be ME kind of made me appreciate Meisa a bit more as an artist because she shows her diversity with this song and I can’t help but love it.

It’s back to the dark electronic songs with PARADE, and Meisa’s vocals are heavily autotuned again. Sometimes in the chorus though, it almost seems like she’s singing out of key, and then I mean REALLY out of key. I almost hate that melody, seriously, it doesn’t go anywhere. This is a filler track, it does nothing for me.

S.O.S-ワタシサガサナイデクダサイ- is by far the most vague song I’ve ever heard from Meisa. It’s like a huge hybrid of brass instruments, surfing music and a hyper fast beat. The song sounds like she’s trying way to hard to provide us with a sort of summer track, but I’m not falling for that one. I’m sorry Meisa, this is a wannabe track. Plus: she sings the high notes without the autotune. Double ouch.

UPGRADE U! is the living proof that B-side can also be featured on an album, and it gives me the chance to finally hear what I’ve been missing since I didn’t have the version of the ‘Wired Life‘ single with this song on it. I’m so glad to hear it’s a big improvement after the previous two tracks. The song is set to a much lighter note yet it’s still pretty edgy with a lot of synths and beats. Despite of some minor flaws (which she will always have) this song features one of her best vocal performances and I really love the line ‘Shine a light, shine a light‘.

So there’s a real ballad finishing the album here, and I’m surprised of how pleasant 曖昧で贅沢な欲望 sounds! Meisa’s singing without any autotune to a piano melody, how great is that? She found a pitch that works fine for her, and for the first time I can actually hear some emotion in her vocals. It’s nice how the strings, percussion and background vocals come in later and build around Meisa and the piano melody. I think I’ve found my forever favorite by Meisa, can’t believe this is true! o.O

Wow, I’m not lying when I say this album is way, waaaaay better than MAGAZINE, her first album. True, the album has some minor flaws, such as the spreading of the club bangers and slower R&B songs and Meisa’s vocals in some tracks, but overall there’s so much improvement. I’m almost in shock, and especially the last song stunned me. There’s some great uptempo stuff here and luckily Meisa shows off her softer side with a few softer songs. I didn’t imagine myself liking this album, but I actually do!

Favorite songs: Hit the Road | Wired Life | One More Drama | Breeze Out | LAST CODE | Happy to be ME | UPGRADE U! | 曖昧で贅沢な欲望

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

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