BENI – Red

September 5, 2013 at 3:37 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
BENI – Red

1. intro
2. REASON
3. Satsuki Ame
4. OUR SKY
5. FLY HIGH
6. Concrete Rose
7. Red
8. ANGEL
9. sweet danger
10. sands of time
11. Home Sweet Home
12. Eien
13. AM 2:00

♦ ♦ ♦

Red is the eigth studio album released by Japanese/American singer BENI, and her fifth album released under the Universal Music sub-label NAYUTAWAVE RECORDS. The album was released on July 31, 2013 and debuted at #7 on the Oricon Charts. Red has sold 15,681 copies to date.

intro features a nice and calm piano melody at first, but after a short while things go down with some strings and percussion too. BENI does some adlibbing, which keeps things as simple as a real intro track but its actually the cherry on top of a good track to get you in the right mood.

The first full song on the album is REASON, also the first new song. I was expecting a kickass R&B song to open the album after the introduction, but this song sounds a bit more like pop with dance influences. The beat is fast, the strings give the arrangement a nice touch and I like the piano in the bridge that slows things down for a moment. It’s not the most memorable BENI song, but good enough to like it.

On to the first A-side, Satsuki Ame. It’s quite early for a ballad, but when it’s this one it actually makes things alright. This piano ballad has a sense of magic around it, created by BENI and pianist Shionoya Satoru, that captures you from the first second on. It’s one of those typical breathtaking ballads that starts out soft and then takes off with more strings and percussion. BENI’s vocals are perfect, just the right amount of emotion!

OUR SKY was the last A-side song released before the album came along and it works perfect right after Satsuki Ame. It could be the summer song of the album since it has a very uplifting and infectuous quality, together with great vocals. I remember that, when I reviewed the single, it took me a while to get into the song before I could memorize those parts that should be the most memorable, but then it got to me and I really like this track now.

I wasn’t expecting FLY HIGH to be like this. I think of BENI as my Japanese R&B miracle and now she’s doing more and more songs that incorporate dance elements. It’s catchy though, and it makes the song so much different than the rest (something that doesn’t occur very often on BENI’s albums). I like the synths in the background, but to me it’s like there’s something off about BENI’s vocals at times. Don’t know what to think of this one.

Concrete Rose has more of a bouncy and laid back quality, some elements reminding me of the typical rock ‘n roll music pattern. I really love the arrangement, it’s pretty sassy and not the usual BENI song, her vocals are good too. But still, it’s too generic. I can’t find myself really liking this song in the future, let alone remember it. Not enough variation.

Goodness, Red kicks in with such a lot of attitude! That kickass R&B/soft hiphop flavor reminded me of one of my favorite BENI tracks (‘My World’ on her FORTUNE album), these are the songs I’d like to hear from her! I love that drum beat and the strings and synths in the background work perfectly around it. BENI’s vocals are top notch, carrying the song with so much fire and grace at the same time. Probably her best title track ever.

The second half of the album opens with the ballad ANGEL, a sweet and lighthearted piece with just a little emotional touch. The piano is really the focus of the song with a soft beat underlining it, but the nicest touch is the flute melody you can hear every once in a while. BENI uses her head voice much more this time, singing in a crisp clear voice. Every true BENI fan should enjoy this.

I’ve heard some really bad things about sweet danger, but although it doesn’t fit BENI’s vocal style 100% I think it’s fierce! It’s awesome to actually hear BENI tackle some real fast paced dance music that could easily feature some kind of dubstep drop if you know what I mean. It reminded me a bit of ‘Hot Right Now’ (by Rita Ora). I could get used to this!

sands of time takes us back to the more typical BENI style: soft R&B. The music is very smooth with a handclap beat, guitars and strings, complimenting BENI’s vocals very well. Although it might be more of the same after a while (further into the song), it’s a very enjoyable song to say the least and although it’s something I’m more used to from BENI, it shows she can still put some variation on an album.

Contrary to what I was expecting, Home Sweet Home is on the album! I was begging for her to do so, and I got what I wanted: almost 6 minutes of this heavenly pop/rock ballad. It has such a nice and funky style while still staying on the soft side. BENI’s high pitched vocals and adlibs are perfect as always, especially in the best part of the song: the chorus. One of my absolute favorites on the album and probably the best A-side from this era.

Look what we have here! Eien is here on the album too, it’s been a while. From the first note I remember the entire song again, and I also remember how much I loved it back when it was released in January 2012. I described it as being a ‘magical’ song, and I still think it is. The melodies are so beautiful, and the arrangement works perfectly to maintain that magical ambience throughout the song. Perfection to the core ❤

AM 2:00 closes the album and it also takes on a more relaxed style. I must say that I’m less impressed after the last couple of amazing songs, but regardless it’s a nice song on it’s own. It’s a bright ballad with some nice piano notes and a harp, while a soft beat underlines it perfectly. After a minute or two the song really takes off and I start to like it more. I’d rather see it somewhere else on the album instead of here, but like I said, it’s good enough.

After some tracks that were just ‘okay’ I thought this might take a turn for the worst during the second half, but the second half actually saved the entire album. The first full track REASON failed to fully grab my attention after all; that wouldn’t happen until Satsuki Ame and OUR SKY came along. The two tracks after that raised a feeling of desperation, before I found myself enjoying the album again after Red. I’ve heard some people say that this is her worst album yet. I agree it”s not her best, but I surely wouldn’t call this her worst either. I actually like the fact that BENI tackled some new stuff on this album and I would recommend this to anyone who is already familiar with her music. If not, start with albums like ‘Bitter and Sweet’ and ‘JEWEL’.

Favorite songs:

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarblankstar
4 stars

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