Ayumi Hamasaki – again

December 6, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – again

1. Wake me up (Original Mix)
2. Sweet scar (Original Mix)
3. snowy kiss (Original Mix)
4. Ivy (Original Mix)
5. Missing (Orchestra version)
6. Melody (Acoustic Piano version)
7. Wake me up (Remo-con rmx)
8. snowy kiss (Shohei Matsumoto remix)
9. Wake me up (Original Mix -Instrumental-)
10. Sweet Scar (Original Mix -Instrumental-)
11. snowy kiss (Original Mix -Instrumental-)
12. Ivy (Original Mix -Instrumental-)

♦ ♦ ♦

again is the fourth mini-album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on December 8, 2012. It is the second release of the special 5 consecutive months releases event to commemorate her 15th anniversary.

Wake me up (Original Mix) is what I’ve been waiting for for so long after so many Xilia songs. It’s edgy, danceable, agressive and it just blows right out of your speakers from the very first second. Ayu herself sound pretty good too, sounds like she finally returned to a more appealing sound after sounding somewhat unrecognizeable on albums like ‘Love songs’. It’s really good to hear her in her comfort zone again doing an agressive rock song with a very good tempo and lots of catchy lines.

I don’t know why but the very first seconds (and those couple of seconds only) of Sweet scar (Original Mix) reminded me a bit of the music that The Script makes, but nonetheless it’s some beautiful piano music that opens this ballad song. It actually stays quite calm for a little over four minutes, which is the total length of the song, so it kinda sounds like an orchestra version of the song. Next to the piano, some lovely strings lines come in and it makes the overall arrangement of the song so pretty and ambient.

snowy kiss (Original Mix), what a winter-ish title! At first I expected this would be something like ‘BALLAD’ Part II, with a dark winter ballad sound to it, but my god did I get a good dance track here. I’m not always into dance but Ayu always makes it more unique and definitely more appealing for me. Being the second energetic track on this mini-album it’s so different in sound from the first track Wake me up, I love how this sounds. The song is a bit long but WHO CARES.

Slowing things down again a bit with Ivy (Original Mix) which is another ballad but it has the power that Sweet scar lacked a bit. Out of all the songs on this mini-album this is the song that sounds most like the stuff she did before, but it’s not a total shame since it’s still a pretty and good ballad track. I like the emotional strings arrangement, it makes everything a lot more mysterious and dramatic. Good enough track if you ask me.

Time for the remixes. I always love Ayu’s orchestra versions, and now we get new versions of songs from the previous mini-album ‘LOVE’, starting with Missing (Orchestra version). The songs on the album were good, the originals that is, and I definitely think an orchestra version like this fits the song ‘Missing’ perfectly. They took the quite agressive arrangement and turned it about 180 degrees without making it lose its strength. I think they even recorded new vocals here, Ayu herself sounds better here than in the original as well. Pretty awesome version.

I think ‘Melody’ was my favorite out of the bunch, and on this album it has been restyled to Melody (Acoustic Piano version). Not only Ayu’s orchestra versions are good, I love piano music as well, especially when it’s incorporated into her remixes. I love how this version retains the original melody I loved so much in the actual song, the chorus never fails to give me goosebumps. I’m not even ashamed to say I think this is probably one of Ayu’s best 2012 songs, I adore it.

Wake me up (Remo-con rmx) is the first uptempo remix, and it’s as crazy (or even more crazy) than the previous remix Remo-con did for ‘You & Me’ on the ‘LOVE’ mini-album. I thought that was one of the better remixes. Now, Remo-con gave Wake me up a very nice and heavy dubstep sound and it sounds hot as hell. Dubstep is my guilty pleasure next to hiphop so I can appreciate this remix, believe it or not, and it works very well on the song as well. Amazing!

The longest track on this album at over 7 minutes in length, and also the last one on the tracklist, is snowy kiss (Shohei Matsumoto remix). I don’t particularly like long remixes, half of the song is always unnecessary. Matsumoto created a very synth heavy remix for Ayu, and although the synths sometimes overpower her vocals it sounds pretty good. Looks like he put some dubstep in there as well, and a little dubstep never hurt anyone so I definitely don’t mind. For such an ass-long remix, it was a pretty good one!

I’m so happy with this album, you don’t know half. I can already conclude that this album is gonna get so much more succes than ‘LOVE’, although most of the tracks on that album were good too but they pretty much all had their share of flaws. Now the only flaw on this mini-album is that Ivy is kinda forgettable, but still it’s not a bad song so no bad news to report. In fact, I think there wasn’t a single song that I didn’t like. Therefore I’m pretty sure I’m gonna love this album over time, I already like it very much right now and that always serves as a good basis! Ayu closed the year with her best release of 2012!

Favorite tracks: Wake me up | Sweet scar | snowy kiss | Missing (Orchestra version) | Melody (Acoustic Piano version) | Wake me up (Remo-con rmx)

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

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