Namie Amuro – Concentration 20

August 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – Concentration 20

1. Concentration 20 (make you alright)
2. B w/z you
3. Close your eyes, Close to you
4. Me love peace !!
5. No Communication
6. a walk in the park
7. To-day
8. Storm
9. Whisper
10. CAN YOU CELEBRATE?
11. I know
12. How to be a Girl

♦ ♦ ♦

Concentration 20 is the second studio album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on July 24, 1997. The album reached #1 on the Oricon charts, selling 824,980 copies in its first week. Becoming the #7 album of the year and the #80 best selling album of all time in Japan, it charted for 28 weeks and sold 1,929,860 units.

It surprises me a lot that Concentration 20 (make you alright) has such a heavy rock sound with a heavy drum beat and a lot of agressive electric guitar riffs, at this time Namie was best known for releasing dance/pop tracks so I like this change. The chorus is made very catchy by the background vocals, and a freestyle piano melody spices up the hooks. Namie herself doesn’t sound very energetic most of the time, but she’s not too bad though.

B w/z you is a bit like a rock ballad. Very slow paced drum rhythms, strings and a lot of electric guitar accents make up the arrangement. Namie’s vocals are better than in the previous track, and they even become better when she is accompanied by the background singers. I find this track pretty enjoyable, even with the repetition in the lyrics.

Leaving the rock themed songs for a moment (but still incorporating elements of it), Close your eyes, Close to you features quite a long introduction but the music is amazing. This is the first time synths play a bigger role and they are very agressive, just like the beat coming from a drum machine this time. So yes, you can say this is a rock influenced dance song, a very nice hybrid indeed. Just a little empty at times.

Me love peace !! is actually reggae inspired, why am I not surprised… I think it’s pretty cool how Namie is tackling all these other genres on her album, first she rocked rock (har har) and now she’s kicking it with reggae. There actually are some nice electric guitar riffs and even some brassy accents at some points, just like in original reggae music. She nailed this one. It’s just that the lyricist should’ve paid attention in English class a little more…

And then I was blown away by No Communication, what a track. Back to the regular pop songs, this song is actually not that regular. It has a good solid beat, electric guitar solos and super infectuous synth melodies. When it comes to the vocals, this could easily be her best performance on the entire album, just like this could be my favorite track.

Another favorite of mine is a walk in the park, also a very energetic song and the way I see it now it’s like a precursor to the sound of this album. It was the first single, and also the first in her discography to include more rock elements in the music. It’s still one of her best songs with very uplifting music and catchy vocal melodies, especially in the chorus when she sings the title words.

To-day has a pretty chill introduction until this amazing drum beat and guitars come in, so I guess this is one of the funkier songs on the album. It’s interesting how it still remains a mellow midtempo track besides that, and Namie is keeping her vocals low profile as well. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite track but it definitely drew some attention.

And then I raised an eyebrow over Storm, being an urban rap song… Yes, Namie is rapping her lyrics in the verses. She doesn’t actually suck at it or anything but I like her singing voice way better. The music is rather pumping with a heavy beat, jazzy piano improvisations and brass instruments playing accents. …….Interesting track?

Whisper on the other hand sounds more promising from the start, beginning quite soft but growing into another uptempo agressive track with heavy beats, piano melodies and electric guitars. It wasn’t a very good idea to alter Namie’s vocals in some parts, but that’s just a minor thing although it creeped me out sometimes. This one receives some extra points for being such a strong track.

CAN YOU CELEBRATE? opens lovely with some strings and a flute, leading into this gospel inspired song led by a piano and strings. It’s definitely a favorite of mine and the most memorable track on the album with its unique sound, it’s so uplifting. I love how the background choir leads the entire song into its highlight near the end. Best song on the album, period.

I know is basically an instrumental track, 3 minutes in length, and kind of an intro track to what’s next since it features the same kind of heavy drum break sound which I love. There are a lot of deep synths accompanying the beats, so the overall track is pretty catchy. Just didn’t think it would be an interlude.

Still, the interlude leads perfectly into the last track, although it’s not one of the tracks I really liked. How to be a Girl has some extremely good music, again featuring that lovely drum break and a lot of nice guitar riffs. It’s just that Namie’s vocals are a little empty and I can’t tell the verses and chorus apart, you can say it flows too well. Still when I compare it to some other tracks on the album it’s quite fierce and I guess it’s an okay track.

If one thing is quite clear to me now, Concentration 20 is sooo much better than ‘SWEET 19 BLUES’. Some tracks may still have issues, but they are way smaller than the issues the debut album had (useless interludes, bad vocals, etc.). The singles released prior to this album were very good as well, except for one maybe but you all know how I feel about that one. The succes of the singles prepared me well enough for what the album was gonna be like, and Namie still had some surprises in store. I’m satisfied with what she released after an ‘average’ debut, she became better by the day.

Favorite tracks: Concentration 20 (make you alright) | B w/z you | Me love peace !! | No Communication | a walk in the park | Whisper | CAN YOU CELEBRATE?

OVERALL RATING

3½ stars

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