Utada Hikaru – Distance

December 9, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Posted in Utada Hikaru | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Utada Hikaru – Distance

1. Wait & See ~Risk~
2. Can You Keep A Secret?
3. DISTANCE
4. Sunglasses
5. Drama
6. Eternally
7. Addicted To You [UP-IN-HEAVEN MIX]
8. For You
9. Kettobase!
10. Parody
11. Time Limit
12. Kotoba ni Naranai Kimochi
13. HAYATOCHI-REMIX

♦ ♦ ♦

Distance is the second album by Japanese/American singer Utada Hikaru, released on March 28, 2001. Distance reached #1 on the Oricon album chart at the time of its release with the highest first-week sales in the chart’s history and charted for 45 weeks. It became the #1 album of 2001 according to Oricon charts. Distance also had the highest first week sales of any album in the world’s history. The album has sold a total of 4,472,343 copies.

Wait & See ~Risk~ is a pretty interesting and upbeat song from the start, it’s her old reliable R&B style again but with a certain different touch. Hikki starts the song with a scream in the background, accompanied by some nice guitar riffs, bells and typical pop percussion. There are some rock elements in there too because of some electric guitar riffs. It takes some time to develop but eventually it’s a nice opening track.

Can You Keep A Secret? started off kinda confusing because the introduction was slower paced, until Hikki starts singing ‘hit if up like this‘ and the song becomes more energetic. I still wouldn’t say it’s a spiced up song but still it has something. Hikki’s singing is definitely better than in the previous track with less whiney parts and better vibrato. She really knows how to make a song catchy and memorable.

There’s a nice, magical introduction to DISTANCE that I really like, the chimes make it very ethereal. By now I know Hikaru’s title tracks are always among her best, and this is no exception. It’s the most interesting track yet and the ambience makes me pretty happy to be honest. It’s a sweet and innocent song, but the electric guitar riffs in the background make it a bit funkier. I really like this one.

Sunglasses kinda takes you back to the mellow R&B tracks that were very well represented on the ‘First Love’ album. It’s the first calm track on the album, and it also incorporates the same soothing elements (like chimes) from the previous track. The middle of the song actually reminds me a bit of the type of music that Koda Kumi made around that time, but that could just be me. Good track nonetheless.

The next song is probably the most unique thing she ever did on one of her albums, especially so early in her career. Drama is a very experimental track with a dark and edgy rock sound, very gritty and solid. Hikki’s raw sound fits the song very well, to my surprise. The song is drenched in desperation and there’s almost a sense of melancholy in a way. For a girl that does R&B most of the time, this is a good step away from her comfort zone!

Apparently the only ballad on the album is Eternally, and it’s enchanting and breathtaking. In the verses Hikki has a slightly lower and deeper voice, but in the chorus she sings in a higher pitch which make her thin vocals so vulnerable. The orchestrated background music is amazingly well combined with a strong drumbeat to give it a little more punch. Although Hikki’s voice can tremble at times, she does a very good job on this one.

Back to the R&B stuff with Addicted To You [UP-IN-HEAVEN MIX]. There’s a great contrast between the calmer verses where Hikaru displays deeper vocals and the more energetic chorus with higher vocals. It’s probably one of the better R&B tracks on this album, the beat itself is pretty basic but the organ and strings make it interesting. The chorus is the most memorable part. It could’ve been better but still it’s not a bad track.

For You is as laid back as Sunglasses was a few tracks earlier, but it didn’t capture my attention until Hikaru started to go from low and deep vocals to her normal register. It needs some time to get the engines started, but then again, do they ever get started at all with this track? I like mellow R&B songs, but when there are no highlights my attention just drifts off.

What kind of way to start a song is the line ‘I want your baby‘…? Anyway, Kettobase! is another experimental song on the album and it has a rock sound just like Drama but this tune is so much more agressive. The electric guitar riffs are blazing and Hikki sings with so much more attitude than she used to. It’s a quircky song, easy to like, hard to forget. Thanks to the weird lyrics ofcourse, haha.

Parody is calmer and so refreshing after such an agressive and fun track. It’s Hikaru’s first attempt at reggae music, or what sounds like it, with amazing soft percussion, little piano notes swirling around and a groovy ambience all over. As the most unique track on the album it deserves some credit, especially since she managed to incorporate a rock tune into the middle part of the song. Fab track.

Funny how Hikaru teamed up with Rodney Jerkins (Darkchild) for Time Limit, and it could just be me but it seems as if this R&B track is one of the more developed ones on the album (with kick-ass vocals as well). Darkchild has cheesy lyrics, ‘Darkchild gon’ make you dance‘, but his low voice adds something spicy to that part of the song. The chorus is very enjoyable and the singing melodies are very memorable athough this is R&B track #3564341234 on the album.

Kotoba ni Naranai Kimochi is a pretty bland track if you ask me. I don’t get Hikki’s singing melodies in the chorus when she sings the title words, it’s just a very weird track and very forgettable.

HAYATOCHI-REMIX on the other hand keeps me interested after a quircky introduction with some nice piano notes playing around. The piano is actually what does the trick in this remix, along with the new background vocals which were lovely. Some boring parts, but most of the song was very good and definitely much better than Kotoba ni Naranai Kimochi.

I was on the fence with relatively more tracks on this album than on ‘First Love’, I don’t know why but it seems as if this album had more production value but there was still something wrong with some of the tracks. Not enough variation among the R&B tracks, I guess. The three tracks that were most memorable were ofcourse Drama, Eternally, Kettobase! and Parody since they’re all pretty much one of a kind. Yet there it stops. I wouldn’t mind listening to this album more often to let the tracks grow on me, but for now I have to admit it didn’t impress me as much as I was hoping for.

Favorite tracks: Can You Keep A Secret | DISTANCE | Drama | Eternally | Kettobase! | Parody

OVERALL RATING
star
starstarhalfstarblankstar
3½ stars

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