Jolin Tsai – MUSE

February 1, 2013 at 7:04 PM | Posted in Jolin Tsai | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Jolin Tsai – MUSE

1. Dà Yìshùjiā
2. Dr. Jolin
3. Mí Huàn
4. Shísān Hào Xīngqí Wǔ
5. Beast
6. Shānlán Jiànxì Tōukuī Nǐ
7. Cǎisè Zhàopiàn
8. Shīrén Mànbù
9. Yǒurén
10. Mǎsàikè
11.

♦ ♦ ♦

MUSE is the twelfth studio album by Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai, released on September 14, 2012. The album was released in a MUSE of Love and MUSE of Dream edition. The MUSE of Love came with an 36-page “Juliet” photobook shoot in Hong-Kong and the MUSE of Dream edition with a photobook shoot in Paris plus a badge holder.

Dà Yìshùjiā (The Great Artist) was used as the promo track for the album, and I can understand why. If you wanna listen to this track, use good subwoofers because there’s BASS in this song. Besides that, Jolin already makes a homerun with this first track, filled with attitude and amazing R&B elements. I have to get used to the Chinese lyrics because it has been a while since I last listened to Mandopop, but there couldn’t have been a better first track than this.

The next track continues the sassy uptempo stuff, but then with even more synths. Dr. Jolin incorporates more dance elements in its music, but not the heavy kind. I’d say this song is the bubbly kind of dance track with fun written all over it. It’s rather catchy too, but it needs time for me to draw that conclusion in the end. The arrangement actually sounds like American dance music, which is pretty cool.

Mí Huàn (Fantasy) is a little heavier on the clubbing sound than the previous tracks. The beats are very deep and fast, with various synth sounds all over the place to make one fierce dance track. Jolin’s light and pretty vocals form an amazing contrast with the heavy music, I love her performance here. Even though I’m not all that into Europop tracks and such, Jolin convinced me here. And that’s pretty hard to do.

Taking things up a notch with  Shísān Hào Xīngqí Wǔ (Friday the 13th), which has a fast tempo and a much lighter and airier sound than Mí Huàn. Until the hook comes up, that is. The verses and are very lighthearted with higher vocals by Jolin, and also a bit influenced by dance music. The hooks on the other hand are influenced by fast dubstep music to really get things going. It keeps the song interesting, although there’s not much time to lose interest because the song is too short.

There’s a sense of creepiness about Beast, it’s like it’s a haunting variation on usual dance tracks with some scary background elements that remind me of an ominous haunted mansion. It’s an even shorter track than the original, but it kicks ass nonetheless with its dark an mysterious atmosphere.

Another short song follows, but Shānlán Jiànxì Tōukuī Nǐ (Peaking At You From Behind The Fence) has a lighter and bouncier pop sound to it with a nice piano melody throughout the track. The little electric guitar solos and drum accents throughout the track are an amazing addition as well. This song is so different from the rest of those synth-filled track with its band music arrangement and poppier sound. TOO SHORT JOLIN.

Cǎisè Zhàopiàn (Color Photos) opens the ballad section of the album and Jolin always surprises me with the fact that she has a great timbre and amazing vocals for doing ballads. This ballad starts off really intimate and tiny but becomes bigger and more powerful during the first chorus. It really packs a punch here and it’s so beautiful how everything in this track fits.

The next ballad is Shīrén Mànbù (The Wandering Poet), and although it has the same pattern as the previous song, they differ in many ways. The first thing is that this song features some amazing accordion influences, you rarely hear that in a song. It’s also a lot slower, so it feels like a much more emotional ballad, also because of the strings and piano in the background. It’s the longest track on the album and it deserved its full 5 minutes of fairytale magic.

It appears that Yǒurén (Someone) is bringing back the pop and the tempo in the tracklisting without overdoing it after two amazing ballads. Since ballads can kick eveything to the curb any day it’s always pretty hard to top them, and in this case this song didn’t top the ballads either. In fact, it seemed a little bit more boring when placed after Shīrén Mànbù. It’s a one of a kind song on the album itsself, but not an amazing track on its own or anything. Just nice I guess.

The previous song is packed between ballads, what more can you do to deteriorate its value.. Anyway, Mǎsàikè (Mosaic) is the acoustic/powerballad hybrid on the album with just a piano and acoustic guitar accompanying Jolin until the second verse comes along to give it a little kick. A full band comes in with drums, strings and an electric guitar which makes it all so amazing. It’s another song that gives me goosebumps, especially right after the bridge when they change the pitch of the chorus a little and the electric guitar plays its freestyle notes in the background. Probably my most favorite song on the album.

(I) opens in some kind of Ayu Classical album style with a violin and cello, but then an acoustic guitar comes in instead to lead the song into the first verse. The orchestral instrumentation stays nonetheless to give the song an emotional feel in a different way than the other ballads did. It’s a simple ballad, no complications at all, it just flows very well and harmonious and if you ask me this is the perfect closing track for the album.

Wow, was I impressed by MUSE. I was never impressed by Jolin before, probably because I never gave her much attention, but she really showed herself to me with this album. Although having the dance tracks and ballads devided isn’t always the best choice for an album, it worked for this one because the tracks themselves were perfect for following that pattern. They weren’t too long either, some tracks were way too short but that’s what can make a track sweet sometimes. If I had known this album would be so good, I would’ve nominated it for the Best of 2012 feature post, but oh well. Too late, but at least I recognize its power now.

Favorite tracks: Dà Yìshùjiā | Mí Huàn | Shísān Hào Xīngqí Wǔ | Shānlán Jiànxì Tōukuī Nǐ | Cǎisè Zhàopiàn | Shīrén Mànbù | Mǎsàikè | Wǒ

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

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