Ayumi Hamasaki – LOVE again

February 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | 2 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – LOVE again

1. Wake me up
2. Song 4 u
3. Missing
4. SAKURA
5. Melody
6. task’n’bass
7. Bye-bye darling
8. snowy kiss
9. Sweet Scar
10. petal
11. glasses
12. untitled for her… story 2
13. Gloria
14. Ivy
15. You & Me

♦ ♦ ♦

LOVE again is the fourteenth studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on February 8, 2013. It is the fourth release of the special 5 consecutive months releases event to commemorate her 15th anniversary.

SO EXCITED. Okay, so I always thought this album was gonna start with either You & Me or Wake me up, and actually starting with the latter was such a great idea. This was my favorite song off the ‘again’ mini-album because it’s so energetic and danceable, mixing agressive rock elements with dance music. This is Ayu at her best, so much in her comfort zone with songs like these and it’s one of her best songs in a long time.

Now the signature song from the LOVE mini album comes next, Song 4 u. I was immediately impressed with this song when hearing it for the first time and I was sure it would be among the first songs on the tracklisting. Being another Tales of Xilia song, it sounds pretty much like ‘progress’ off her mini-album FIVE when it comes to the style. It’s dramatic with some classical elements, like strings, but the rock music makes it a little heavier and very epic. I just love it when she releases songs like this one.

Missing was also on LOVE, and to me it feels like a winter ballad spiced up a little, to evolve into a midtempo track with a lot of appeal. You’ll think it will be a ballad at first, but the chorus definitely has a good deep beat in it to give it a 180 twist. The perfect song to follow up Song 4 u because it has the same epic sound that I love, it’s not exactly a calm song but there’s a sense of mystery to it that gives songs like this a complete new dimension.

SAKURA is the first new track on the album and also the first ballad to appear. It has a kind of power ballad approach, so there are a lot of softer elements like many strings, a harp, a background choir and a piano, but in the chorus the drums and electric guitar give it more power. Ayu’s melodies are amazing, this is the kind of ballad that is simply breathtaking and it’s sure to give many of her fans goosebumps all over. I’m so blown away by this, also by Ayu’s vocals here. Very convincing!

Staying in the power ballad genre, we have a song that is a bit more fierce in that category and it’s one we know ofcourse: Melody. There’s a bit of tension in the verses already, right after the piano melody that introduces the song disappears and a soft electric guitar takes over. The chorus is full out with strings, guitars and drums again while Ayu beautifully sings her heart out. Altogether, this is another favorite of mine, from the very first time I heard it on LOVE.

Woohoo, another ‘task’ interlude haha. task’n’bass is, as you can see from the title, a very agressive interlude with a lot of deep bass sound, and eventually it’s like a dubstep revolution through your speakers that is just all over the place. By now, I was expecting this (given the fact that she did a lot of dubstep remixes lately).

Bye-bye darling was the perfect song to come after that crazy interlude, and this new song has some appealing stuff in store. It’s another heavy uptempo song with a clear rock theme, but every now and then the synths come through to give it an extra punch. It’s actually a typical Ayu song, but then a lot faster and this time I love the verses too. This song is slaying, I’d love to see her perform this live.

For a song that bears the name snowy kiss, it’s sooo far from being a winter ballad or anything. It’s the first track on the album to really fit into the category of dance tracks (without being a rock/dance hybrid I mean), and although it’s a known fact that I don’t always like dance tracks, you can wake me up for this one. The chorus may be a little simple when it comes to the melodies, but listening to this track is fully worth those 6 minutes (and this is the longest track on the album).

Sweet Scar opens the second half of the album and tones everything down a bit after two tracks that were all over the place. It ha s a lot of characteristics of an orchestra ballad version, it’s almost like this originally appeared on A Classical. Tracks like this, with violins and a cello, beautiful piano music and the strumming of a guitar should be on her album more often because they really suit her voice.

A new song! petal sounds very dramatic from the beginning with a triple time tempo and a lot of strings in the background, it’s almost like a Renaissance/Versailles theme. I must say Ayu knows how to keep me surprised with this entirely new approach of a ballad on this album, it’s like nothing she did before and that’s exactly what I love about this. Very epic and memorable track indeed.

glasses is the second interlude on the album, leading into the last four tracks. This interlude has a more pop/rock approach at first before a summerish dance beat softly drops in with Ayu chanting in the background. The little piano notes and strings give it more of a contrast. It’s just an interlude, but it is a good one.

untitled for her… story 2 is the ‘part II’ of ‘untitled ~for her~’ off her album GUILTY, which was released five years ago. The song was dedicated to her friend, who died in an accident, so this song must be very personal and emotional for Ayu. It’s a soft ballad with a long orchestral introduction, and the strings an piano definitely contribute to the emotional load in the song. Songs like these make me cry, seriously. The electric guitar coming in after the first chorus makes that even worse. Ayu herself puts so much into her performance, it’s probably the most breathtaking ballad on the entire album if not in her entire career.

This next ballad song took me a bit by surprise. Gloria, which is a lovely title for a song but w/e, opens with a very soft arrangement and a bass in the background, before it goes full blown in the chorus with more instruments to give it more of that typical power ballad feeling. The song builds piece by piece into the powerful product it eventually becomes, and even if it’s the fifth ballad on the album, it’s original enough for me to not care a bit about that.

I still don’t care about that fact when Ivy, another ballad, is next. It was the ballad on the ‘again’ mini-album that had a bit more spice to it than Sweet Scar had if I remember it correctly, and also this could easily fit onto earlier albums like ‘Love songs’ (released in 2010). Theres not much tempo in the song and the drums and electric guitars are less prominent than the strings, but the real power in the song comes from Ayu’s own vocals, especially in the chorus.

After a couple of ballads, it’s time to close the album with a bang, and what better way to close the album than with the good old You & Me. This track was originally the new track on her latest best album, released in the summer, so it has a very summerish tune to it. It goes full out with the beats and synths, and although Ayu’s Engrish comes out in the verses, this song definitely kicks ass. It would’ve been great as either the opening track or closing track if you ask me, and I got it my way! The perfect track to close the perfect album.

Damn! I knew I was excited for this album to be released, but I had no idea I would be listening to Ayu’s most perfect album ever in her entire career! If you’d just take a look at my favorite tracks, you’d see that I loved every full length track on this album (interludes never really count in my opinion, although they were definitely enjoyable as well). Every once in a while, an artist releases an album that you just love to the core, and this is that album. I don’t think she’s gonna top this anytime soon, I don’t know what you guys think about the album when you get the chance to try it out but I’M SMITTEN.

Favorite tracks: Wake me up | Song 4 u | Missing | SAKURA | Melody | Bye-bye darling | snowy kiss | Sweet Scar | petal | untitled for her… story 2 | Gloria | Ivy | You & Me

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

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2 Comments »

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  1. I’m no Ayumi fan at all, but I absolutely LOVE this album. First album from her since “I am…” that I can truly say I enjoy all the way through.

  2. I completely agree! I love Ayu, but even I have to admit I don’t listen to every song on her albums straight through. But this album, the energy and flow is just so on point! I can’t bring myself to skip a single note. One of her greatest. Absolutely stunning.


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