Ayumi Hamasaki – LOVEppears

March 31, 2012 at 10:34 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki -LOVEppears

1. Introduction
2. Fly high
3. Trauma
4. And then
5. immature “Album Version”
6. Boys & Girls
7. TO BE
8. End roll
9. P.S. II
10. WHATEVER “Dub’s 1999 Club Remix”
11. too late
12. appears
13. monochrome
14. Interlude
15. LOVE ~refrain~
16. Who…
17. kanariya

♦ ♦ ♦

LOVEppears is the second studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on November 10, 1999. It charted at #1 on the Oricon charts for 3 consecutive weeks. It sold 1,443,490 copies in 1999, becoming the #15 album of the year. It also sold 1,077,960 copies in 2000, becoming the #14 album of the year. This album charted for 64 weeks and sold a total of 2,562,130 copies.

So I already know 12 of the 17 songs thanks to the huge amount of singles…
The Introducion is a pretty heavy one and immediately shows the different directions she’s going with this album. It immediately incorporates the beats, synths and even some of the lyrics of the next song it seamlessly flows into.

Fly high is the first of all the already known songs (although it was a re-cut single at that time) and I like it for a number of things. First, there’s Ayu’s amazing raps in the verses, which she doesn’t do often and especially not after the disastrous ‘NOTHING FROM NOTHING’. This time, she completely nailed it. I also love the music, the nice dance style with fast beats and lots of synth loops sets the tone for the album and shows her versatility as an artist.

The next song appeared on the single ‘A’: Trauma. I’m surprised to find this song as #3, but oh well. It’s another one I like, and I’ve had a weak spot for it since… well, probably a couple of years now. I can even stand her bizar high belting in the chorus. The funky electric guitar riffs make the song more poppy, and the solo in the bridge literally gives me goosebumps. This song could fit the previous era, but it’s a good track on this album too.

And then is the first new track on the album and it features more of a dark dance/pop sound. It’s quite a dynamic track, but it doesn’t really take off until it reaches the 2 minute mark, and I guess that’s where the chorus starts. It’s a bit of a shame, but it gets a lot better after that. I like the hybrid of heavy percussion, synths and electric guitars in this song, but it’s not like this is a special song or anything.

Now we have the original version of the B-side of the ‘appears’ single:immature “Album Version”. It’s another kind of song that doesn’t really go anywhere until the super catchy chorus starts. This track has some pretty forgettable verses, but the chorus kicks ass with a lighter sound to it. The synths are also a little higher pitched and there’s even a piano in there. I love that arrangement, and Ayu’s vocals aren’t bad either!

Boys & Girls is like a mixture of pop/rock and dance music because of the great mixed arrangement of electric guitars and synths, especially in the instrumental parts of the song. Ayu’s vocals are a little pitchy here, but she puts so much energy in her singing I can get through it. It took me a while to appreciate this song, but now I have come to love it (and I also know it by heart thanks to the 10000 remixes xD).

The perfect moment to introduce a slower song: TO BE. If it wasn’t for her crazy high pitched vocals at some points in the chorus, this would’ve been a perfect song at this point on the album. The arrangement is pretty soothing with a nice piano melody, slow percussion and sometimes just a little synth accent (and ofcourse my favorite electric guitar). The song does have some flaws, but I’m quite used to it by now so it has grown on me.

Another ballad? Oh well… Just take TO BE, add some bells, make it more of a winter ballad and you get End roll. I thought it was the greatest contribution to the ‘A’ single because of its unique winter ballad pop/rock sound on a single full of dance tracks, and it gains even more strength after TO BE because it’s a more simple track than that. Ayu’s vocals are more in control, and I love the acoustic guitar and bells in this song.

P.S II is actually a sequel to ‘Powder Snow’ from her first album ‘A Song for ××’, and it surprises me that the sound of the song is so gritty. It doesn’t feel quite right and a bit fake, but the chorus sounds way better than that. It’s not a great song, but also not really bad because Ayu’s vocals are more solid and the chorus really brings back memories of the original track. But let’s be real, what’s the point of this track anyway?

What? Not even an album version? Okay… WHATEVER “Dub’s 1999 Club Mix” isn’t as annoying as the Corsten remixes. Still I don’t know what the use of a remix on a studio album is. The 7 minutes length meant another long ass intro (with some strange sounding synths) and I was hoping they edited out Ayu’s weird high pitched adlibbings, but unfortunately they didn’t. I’m not totally annoyed by this track, but just give me another version and we’re cool Ayu.

too late is a great example of what a rock/trance mixture should sound like. It saves me after WHATEVER proved to be disappointing, so I instantly love everything about this track even more. Especially the use of a megaphone when Ayu sings the first lines of the chorus, and how she transitions to her normal vocals again. The synths play an important dominant role in the song, but the electric guitars in the background make it even heavier. A golden combination ❤

The first think I think when I see appears “Album Version” is next is: “…….Oh no, not again.” That’s what stuffed singles can do to you. But then I remember what’s so special about this track. It starts off as kind of a winter ballad with bells and a piano, and then it becomes more of a pop/rock song with lots of synth riffs in the background. After all the dominant remixes, this version is the best out of the bunch. Great track after all.

How I underestimated monochrome, it’s such a complete shame. The song focuses more on the percussion than the synths, and the song just stays in this chill tempo all the time. I like the random electric guitar riffs and the soft piano that constantly plays in the background. Too bad a great track like this just ends out of the blue, just like that. But at least I enjoyed myself for over 4 minutes.

An Interlude after 13 tracks? ….I guess…? It’s simply some synths playing with soft percussion in the background.

I really like the new solo version they created for LOVE ~refrain~, because it’s R&B and I kinda have a weak spot for those sweet and smooth beats. The synths in this song keep on the background and play some soothing melodies, so the focus lies more on the percussion and the acoustic guitar, the most memorable and remaining instrument from the original. True, R&B is a bit weird on an album like this, but judging by this track only it’s one of the better tracks on the album.

Who… is one of the new songs on the album and a ballad track. It’s another one of those songs I underestimated. ‘Don’t know the song? SKIP’. I shouldn’t have because all that time I truly missed something. This track is beautiful, both the power ballad-like music and Ayumi’s vocals are amazing. I love how it builds from something so simple into a more powerful sound with somewhat heavier percussion, electric guitars and still that lovely piano melody in the background.

kanariya is originally the hidden track that comes in after a long silence behind Who… . Just like LOVE ~refrain~ it’s more of an R&B song and it features some smooth background vocals and even a male vocalist (who sings only some random lines but that’s fine with me). The background vocals made this song, although Ayu herself was pretty solid as well. I was happy this was the re-cut single, because this track is too good to remain a hidden track.

Basically the singles prepared me very well for this album, and the result is that I can appreciate it so much more. Before I started reviewing this era, I always skipped this album, claiming I hated its dance/pop sound and most of the tracks that were on it. I’ll have to kick myself for that because this album is truly amazing. Sure, it has some flaws and some tracks I liked less or even disliked, but most of them I already got used to thanks to the stuffed singles. I’ll never have any prejudices towards and album again!

Favorite tracks: Fly high | Trauma | Boys & Girls | End roll | too late | monochrome | LOVE ~refrain~ | Who…

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: