Kalafina – After Eden

July 11, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Kalafina – After Eden

1. Eden
2. sandpiper
3. Magia
4. Kugatsu
5. in your eyes
6. destination unknown
7. neverending
8. Koto no wa
9. magnolia
10. Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa
11. Mune no Yukue
12. snow falling
13. symphonia

♦ ♦ ♦

After Eden is the third album by Japanese group Kalafina, released on September 21, 2011. The album peaked at #1 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for eleven weeks selling 34,034 copies.

Eden serves as the perfect opening song for the album since it gives off such a lighthearted and upbeat feeling. I like how HIKARU takes on the verses and hooks while WAKANA sings lead in the chorus, with KEIKO always setting a strong undertone for everything. I guess the overall vibe of the song is so appealing you easily forget it’s almost six minutes in length.

Kalafina always includes a very interesting and ethnic song on their albums, and sandpiper is just that. It reminds me so much of deserts with its use of percussion and the piano, guitar, strings and vocals create great melodies around it eventually. The overall feel of the song stays very mysterious and almost foreboding, I love it.

Magia was the latest B-side before this album was released and it turns out to be one of the strongest tracks on both this album and in their discography. The arrangement is perfect and sandpiper set the tone for this, since this track takes that foreboding quality to the next level. Magia is that kind of aggressive rock song that Kalafina hasn’t done before but it works so well for them, HIKARU carries everything to the fullest.

After three interesting and epic songs, we slow things down with Kugatsu, the first real ballad on the album. It’s like every other Kalafina ballad, but like all the other ballads this one has its own special touch too. Mostly it’s piano and some sparkling effects in the background, but a chorus and flute join in later on to give it more ‘oomph’. I love the vocals in this track, especially WAKANA’s.

Wow, Kalafina goes banghra with in your eyes. It even has some electro effects as well, this song took me so much by surprise. Even though this may be a weird transition from the dreamy world of Kugatsu, this song definitely works in every way. The vocals collaborate amazingly well and the bridge in this song is awesome, it definitely has that Oriental feel. It’s like a throwback to some of the songs on the Red Moon album!

destination unknown is one of the most jaw-dropping Kalafina tracks ever since it’s both rock and veeery fast paced, the percussion is very loud and the electric guitars are all over the place. This track asks for some lower octave vocals, which KEIKO ofcourse delivers perfectly, but even WAKANA hits the right spot. HIKARU adds the energy and spice to the chorus. That bridge, I can’t even.

After that aggressive track, neverending has one of the prettiest openings on the entire album. I just adore that violin solo and the chanting mimicing that same melody further on in the song. This song is a mid-tempo folk song that is another genre topping off the album, I already thought I was missing something. The KEIKO/WAKANA vocals combination works perfectly well again, giving me goosebumps every time. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album, although it’s too short to my liking.

Koto no wa is the song that serves as the interlude track I guess, since it’s so short and simple. It’s like a little music box opening, releasing some of its soft and dreamy content, and then closing again after nearly three minutes. Which go by pretty soon by the way.

Even though ‘adore’ is missing on the album, magnolia comes pretty close to capturing that same danceable electro style on the album. I didn’t expect a song witht this name to sound like this, but anyway. KEIKO does a great job on her solo’s, setting a mysterious tone to it. WAKANA takes over pretty soon, but she is my favorite singer after all. This is not their catchiest dance song to date, but it’ll do.

Next is Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa, their first A-side of the era, and although it’s a huge step back from magnolia to a more mellow sound, it does tend to stay in my head after only a couple of listens. The best thing about this entire song is the vocals and that little flute tune that comes in later in the song. It’s a simple but very effective song, the better ballad that beats Kugatsu by far.

My absolute favorite on this album is Mune no Yukue, KEIKO just opens this in such a beautiful way with her higher vocals. This song does put a little more emphasis on KEIKO and HIKARU for a change, which is great. This song has such an uplifting, hopeful and happy sound with its lyrics ‘Let me flow in the river of the heart‘, I just love that. Yep, nothing but love love love for this song.

Personally, I would’ve picked ‘adore’ over snow falling if we’re talking B-sides anyway, but here we have this B-side of the Magia single. This is probably the Kalafina song that resembles a lullaby most of all, and you could fall asleep easily listening to the soft piano music and legato notes by WAKANA. I don’t like HIKARU’s vocals this time, although the rest of the song is not too bad. Just a little too slow for me.

Closing the album, there is symphonia. It continues the use of long notes that snow falling also had, but this song is much grander and more interesting. KEIKO kicks it off perfectly with the other girls singing beautifully too. Even though this song is very pretty and interesting, it just doesn’t seem to stick with me very long. Too bad since it really has potential, but let’s talk about the overall album to set things right.

So this album is pretty much a collection of amazing songs all in their own way, so when every song has something good or interesting to offer, in the end it might be a little overwhelming for a song like symphonia. Anyway, I can’t be more satisfied with Kalafina now. They only had two singles before the release, but both the A-sides sparked my interests immediately. From beginning to end, this album collects their lovely rock, electro and folk sounds on one disc to create another great effort. Kajiura needs a standing ovation for this again.

Favorite songs: Eden | Magia | in your eyes | destination unknown | neverending | Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa | Mune no Yukue

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

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Kalafina – Magia

July 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kalafina – Magia

1. Magia
2. snow falling (CD only)
3. Magia ~magic mix~ (Anime Edition only)
4. Magia ~TV Version~ (Anime Edition only)
5. Magia ~instrumental~

Magia is the ninth single by Japanese group Kalafina, released on February 16, 2011. The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies.

Magia is by far one of Kalafina’s best and most epic songs to date. It’s also the first rock A-side by the group, well I’ll say. I’m always impressed by how ‘in your face’ this song is with its percussion, electric guitars, strings and gong effects. HIKARU takes over from WAKANA as the lead singer of this song and we all know HIKARU is at best in fast paced and aggressive songs like this one. Kalafina has gone evil in a good way, I adore it!

Wait, what? snow falling is definitely a complete 180 from Magia since it’s almost acapella. There’s just a piano and vocals by WAKANA and KEIKO for most of the song, when HIKARU sings her part a violin joins in as well. This song is like a lullaby, easily putting you in a dreamy state. Sometimes I can’t fully appreciate this because it’s too slow and I want something more energetic, but nonetheless this is an amazing and pretty song.

As one of their fewer remixes, Magia ~magic mix~ is a special song. What is not so special about this, is the fact that it sounds a lot emptier than the original. All the epic strings have been removed and it’s mostly HIKARU with some backing vocals by KEIKO doing all the work. I believe there is an erhu added to the arrangement somewhere, but I’m not sure. I prefer the original way more.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Magia#sthash.bwxPYgfi.dpuf
The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Magia#sthash.bwxPYgfi.dpuf

The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Magia#sthash.bwxPYgfi.dpuf

The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Magia#sthash.bwxPYgfi.dpuf
The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Magia#sthash.bwxPYgfi.dpuf
The title track was used as the ending theme for the anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica. The single reached #7 on the Oricon weekly charts, and charted for 21 weeks, selling 48,679 copies. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Magia#sthash.bwxPYgfi.dpuf

Kalafina – Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa

July 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kalafina – Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa

1. Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa
2. adore
3. Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa ~instrumental~

Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa is the eighth single by Japanese group Kalafina, released on September 15, 2010. The single debuted at #8 on the Oricon Charts. The title track was used as the insert song for the anime Kuroshitsuji II.

Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa is an underrated song when I see what other reviewers have written about it. True, this song has a simplistic beginning with just a piano, strings and vocals by KEIKO and WAKANA, but it gets much more powerful afterwards when drums and electric guitars come in. That little flute addition just finishes everything off. For once, HIKARU’s solo spices up the entire song and she’s at the top of her game.

What is a good Kalafina single without a good B-side? adore makes for the danceable track on the single and Kalafina makes some of the best electro songs in the business. I love how the fast beats and soft strings contrast each other here, just like the girls’ vocals. WAKANA takes centre stage with her soft and melodic sound, while KEIKO and HIKARU take care of the powerful and sassy touches. I love this entire single, it has definitely grown a lot on me in the past four years!

OVERALL RATING
star
starstarstarstar
5 stars

 

Kyarypamyupamyu – Kira Kira Killer

July 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Posted in Kyarypamyupamyu | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kyarypamyupamyu – Kira Kira Killer

1. Kira Kira Killer
2. Kira Kira Killer -extended mix-

Kira Kira Killer is the tenth single by Japanese singer Kyarypamyupamyu, released on June 11, 2014. The single was limited to 7,777 copies and the title track was used as the au “Smart Pass” CM song.

Kira Kira Killer sounds like a celebration single to celebrate the fact that this is the tenth already, and so it kicks off right away with a heavy beat and ‘l-u-c-k’ chanting. If you thought you knew what energetic really is, listen to this song and you’ll change your mind since this song is just all over the place. Nakata’s arrangement with synths and piano is very familiar, but he managed to make it work in another original way again. This might be my favorite A-side of this era. I skipped the extended version because, oh well, you probably know why.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

Kyarypamyupamyu – Family Party

July 8, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Posted in Kyarypamyupamyu | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kyarypamyupamyu – Family Party

1. Family Party
2. Scanty Skimpy
3. Invader Invader -extended mix-
4. Family Party -instrumental-
5. Scanty Skimpy -instrumental-

Family Party is the ninth single by Japanese singer Kyarypamyupamyu, released on April 16, 2014. The title track was used as the theme song to the movie ‘Crayon Shin-chan: Serious Battle! Robot Dad Strikes Again’ and the single peaked at #2 on the Oricon Charts.

Ofcourse, an 8bit addition, how could I think it would be missing this time. Family Party is the definition of ‘cartoon’ and ‘video game’, but that 8bit is actually what makes this song so funny and even worthwhile. Let’s be honest, I don’t really like Kyary’s music, besides whenever I review it I never really listen to her music, but whenever I do it’s quite enjoyable in some strange way. This A-side is ofcourse the cutest thing you’ll ever hear, like Kyary’s other songs, but it’s very catchy.

I was wondering all the time what the heck Scanty Skimpy would be like (what kind of title is it anyway), and ofcourse one cartoony song must follow another. It’s almost too energetic for words and sometimes the chorus sounds like a mess of everything thrown together, but luckily there are some parts that are easier on the ears. It’s a funny song, in the way that it kinda makes you laugh. Really.

I guess they finally found out they forgot to include Invader Invader -extended mix- on a single for a long time, but here it is. I always liked this song best since it includes more techno and dubstep that Kyary usually uses in her music, it just instantly drew my attention. Nice to see it here.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarblankstarblankstar
3 stars

Kyarypamyupamyu – Yume no Hajima Ring Ring

July 8, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Posted in Kyarypamyupamyu | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kyarypamyupamyu – Yume no Hajima Ring Ring

1. Yume no Hajima Ring Ring
2. Slomo
3. Mottai Night Land -extended mix-
4. Yume no Hajima Ring Ring -instrumental-
5. Slomo -instrumental-

Yume no Hajima Ring Ring is the eighth single by Japanese singer Kyarypamyupamyu, released on February 26, 2014. The title track was used as a CHINTAI CM song, while Slomo was used as an ALOOK CM song. The single peaked at #9 on the Oricon Charts.

A toy piano opens Yume no Hajima Ring Ring and for a moment I thought the song would be filled with that kind of weirdness, but in the end the song is not too bad. I’ll never like Kyary’s vocals, but somehow her music is fun. This A-side has an uplifting pop vibe with a good beat, synths and some electric guitar riffs in the background. Kyary has talent for making a song very catchy and she did it again.

Slomo is Kyary’s take on a ballad, I wouldn’t really call it that but well it actually is. Anyway, I don’t think she’s ever released something like this before, it’s really interesting how it’s still rich of synths and beats but still manages to be more laid back than her usual songs. Her vocals are a little too high in the chorus for my taste, but this track still deserves its points by being so darn interesting.

Ofcourse there’s Mottai Night Land -extended mix- and it still reminds me of Tsukema Tsukeru because of the melodies. The extra 50 seconds are always presented as a huge treat, but nothing really changes in the song if you ask me (and that’s never the case with these mixes). Still love that quircky little piano tune in the bridge.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarblankstar
4 stars

The title track was used as a CHINTAI CM song, while “Slomo” was used as an ALOOK CM song. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Yume_no_Hajima_Ring_Ring#sthash.TS84azC5.dpuf
The title track was used as a CHINTAI CM song, while “Slomo” was used as an ALOOK CM song. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Yume_no_Hajima_Ring_Ring#sthash.TS84azC5.dpuf

SHINee – Lucky Star

July 8, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Posted in SHINee | 1 Comment

SINGLE REVIEW
SHINee – LUCKY STAR

1. LUCKY STAR
2. Bounce
3. LUCKY STAR (Instrumental)
4. Bounce (Instrumental)

LUCKY STAR is the tenth Japanese single by Korean boy group SHINee, released on June 25, 2014. The single peaked at #2 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 35,837 copies to date.

Finally a new single from SHINee! LUCKY STAR is their Summer single of this year filled with funky guitar riffs, piano, strings and pumping beats. This song just screams fun and I love how all the boys get to show off their vocals in this song. Even Taemin, whose vocals I dislike most, comes out great. Minho’s rap spices up the second verse and Onew, the leader that he is, probably delivers the best vocals. I think I can’t get this track out of my head for quite some time.

Bounce is the big surprise of the single because it has its fair share of brass instruments, something you don’t hear often in SHINee’s songs. Another special treat is the bigger role for Minho and Key, singing instead of rapping. This song is the perfect B-side for the fun A-side since they both share that fun and uplifting quality.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

ayaka – Nijiiro

July 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Posted in ayaka | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
ayaka – Nijiiro

1. Nijiiro
2. Gensoukyoku
3. Nijiiro (Instrumental)
4. Gensoukyoku (Instrumental)

Nijiiro is the fifteenth single by Japanese singer ayaka and the third under her own independent label A stAtion. The single was released on June 18, 2014 and peaked at #3 on the Oricon Charts. The title song was used as the theme song for the TV drama series ‘Hanako to Anne’.

Nijiiro is such a lighthearted and uplifting song, not really a Summer song but more of a Springtime tune. ayaka took a more laidback approach for this one with a lot of strings, piano and some brass instruments, sometimes even a flute comes in. The beginning of the song was a little quircky, and that vibe stays throughout the song, but I actually like it! Ofcourse ayaka’s vocals are the best that ever happened to J-pop in general so I’m enjoying myself with this.

As for the B-side, Gensoukyoku sounds more like other songs I’ve been used to hear from ayaka when it comes to the style of the music. To balance the single, this song is a soft ballad with strings and piano, giving it an emotional touch as ayaka’s strong voice sings the chorus. I love the soft percussion mixing in later, not too intrusive and giving the song just the right spark. Maybe this is indeed the better song on the single, but both are perfect so I’m not complaining a bit.

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

The title song was used as the theme song for the TV drama series “Hanako to Anne“. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Nijiiro_(ayaka)#sthash.qRQ9KzdC.dpuf
The title song was used as the theme song for the TV drama series “Hanako to Anne“. – See more at: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/Nijiiro_(ayaka)#sthash.qRQ9KzdC.dpuf

AFTERSCHOOL – Dress to kill

July 5, 2014 at 7:16 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – Dress to kill

1. Dress code ~Theme of “Dress to kill”~
2. Dress to kill
3. Ms. Independent
4. Triangle
5. Crazy Driver
6. Shh
7. Yes No Yes
8. Heaven
9. in the moonlight
10. rock it!
11. Spotlight
12. Killing eyes ~End of “Dress to kill”~

♦ ♦ ♦

Dress to kill is the second Japanese album by South-Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on March 19, 2014. The album was released in three versions. It debuted at #14 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 4,813 copies to date.

Dress code ~Theme for “Dress to kill”~ is just an intro, let’s not get too emotional about it.

The first full song Dress to kill sounds a little more interesting then. For a title track it is still a little too minimalistic to my taste, but it has potential. It has a sexy and seductive vibe to it and I loved the central role of the guitar in this song. It’s well produced but it could’ve been better than this.

Ms. Independent on the other hand really pumps up the jam! With a modern house production it’s a new road for AFTERSCHOOL but they can sure deliver this very well. Don’t mind the lyrics and repetitions in this song, this is one for just going with the flow and forgetting everything. I’ll just let this track be the catchy one that it is and okay maybe this is repeat material.

While the previous song was a bit more on the lighter side, Triangle is AFTERSCHOOL’s attempt to pull off a darker and edgier dance song. Although it’s pretty catchy, the overall production of the vocals isn’t as good as some other songs by the group. Still, I’m not gonna whine about this one since I really love the vibe of the track. I could get used to this to be honest.

I can’t remember dubbing Crazy Driver the best song off the single ‘Heaven’, especially since it was so different from the A-side, but now on the album it just fits on this exact spot. This is probably the first time the girls’ vocals have been heavily autotuned, but it’s actually kind of sassy and it reminds me of some Namie Amuro-ish quality. Short, but a good enough song in my opinion.

Shh is the A-side from their latest single with the same name, and if you ask me this is a good approach of 80s synthpop with a modern house twist, the former style being something that is often still missing in the Japanese pop scene. Sometimes this song needs a little push to be a little more interesting than it is now, but it’s not terrible. It could’ve been a little bit shorter too, but the repetition makes it a little catchy on the other side as well.

After a lot of upbeat songs, Yes No Yes takes the album to a more relaxed spot with a soft jazz tune. That laidback quality in this song is what draws me to it so much. Ofcourse it’s the type of song you forget the moment it’s over, despite the lovely guitar solo, but I’ll enjoy it for the time being.

I was already wondering how they were gonna place Heaven on this album with all those dance tracks, but right after Yes No Yes is the best place. It’s very oldschool and funky and it could’ve been produced by Pharrell Williams if you ask me. That funky style is what makes it very infectuous at the same time, and yet it feels like all the other songs on the album: a little too empty to really love it.

I don’t like the vocals in the opening of in the moonlight, and that same feeling stays throughout the song. It’s like a filler track, nothing special too much of the same to me. The music is catchy if you view this as an independent song, but in the context of the full album this does little for me.

rock it! served as the B-side for Shh, and when I reviewed the single I thought it was a nice song but good enough to be just a B-side. Now on the album it gets a little more value because of its better aggressive approach than some of the other songs. This is one of the catchy songs that isn’t just catchy on the moment you hear it, but also afterwards when it’s over. Because of that, I’m starting to appreciate this one more.

Closing the album, there’s Spotlight, and it feels too much like a continuation of every single track that came before it. True, it’s catchy and well produced and the vocals come out a lot better, but right now I’m just tired of the same old thing every time. Give it a chance whenever you decide to play it, but for me it’s over by now. All that’s left is an uneventful Killing eyes ~End of “Dress to kill”~, and it’s really done.

AFTERSCHOOL has really let me down with this album. Don’t forget this is just a personal opinion and I usually love this group, but this album is filled with forgettable songs that all sound the same to me. There were some standout tracks and exceptions, but overall this album just doesn’t capture me. I’ll just hope for the best and we’ll see if they come up with something better than this.

Favorite songs: Ms. Independent | Triangle | Crazy Driver | Heaven | rock it!

OVERALL RATING
star
starblankstarblankstarblankstar
2 stars

4,813
4,813

Ayumi Hamasaki – Colours

July 5, 2014 at 6:20 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | 2 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – Colours

1. Feel the love
2. XOXO
3. What is forever love (duet with Urata Naoya)
4. Hello new me
5. Pray
6. Terminal
7. Angel
8. Merry-go-round
9. Lelio
10. NOW & 4EVA

♦ ♦ ♦

Colours is the fifteenth full-length studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on July 2, 2014. The album was released in five different versions and debuted at #5 on the Oricon Charts.

Let’s just say I’m curious about what this album will bring me, since I haven’t been too excited lately. It doesn’t surprise me that Feel the love opens the album because I thought it was a very strong A-side when it was released on Christmas Day. It’s an EDM track with an English chorus and it’s actually the perfect Summer song for an A-side that was released in the middle of winter. Let’s give it another try in this season, shall we. I’m starting to like this one a lot.

I love the way Ayu’s voice sounds when she opens XOXO, it just sounds so fierce. That fierceness stays throughout the song and that totally makes up for the cheesy lyrics she’s singing. A lot more of the song is in English as well, and she has improved her pronunciation a lot. The fact that this song is another dance track makes it fit very well at this spot, behind Feel the love, I like the loud beats and synths. Good job, Ayu.

Dem besties Ayu and Urata Naoya reunite for What is forever love, they sure love working together. They turn out good songs as well, and I was surprised to see them collaborate on a more dance oriented track (produced by DAISHI DANCE). The track needs to grow on me a little, but after a while it starts to appear less empty to me and more catchy.

Hello new me was one of the digital singles (and I didn’t review it indeed), and thank god the previous track already toned things down a little bit. I wasn’t really expecting a ballad here since the album has many dance tracks, and this pop ballad is the kind of ballad you can find on any Ayumi album. I love how it starts off peacefully with just a piano, and then afterwards it gains more power. Loved the melodies as well.

Pray was the other digital single for this album, and somehow I think it’s strange that these two ballads were used to promote a dance album, but anyway.. It’s like a throwback to albums like ‘FIVE’ with a classical and emotional touch. Pray uses piano and strings very well to build up the tension and it actually made this the first track I really love. I like this Ayu so much more than the dance oriented Ayu.

Now Terminal is quite a shock coming right behind Pray, but oh well. This trance track is produced by my fellow countryman Armin van Buuren (who also produced “Connected” on Ayu’s 2001 album “I am…”) and ofcourse it’s very synth-heavy. I didn’t expect to like it all that much, but as soon as Ayu starts singing it’s starting to sound better to me already, her voice sounds really good here. I’m not too fond of dance and trance music, but this kicks ass to say the least.

Slowing things down a tad with Angel, it’s almost a power ballad but not quite. Ayu’s vocals are so different here, I haven’t heard her like this before, and musically she’s going all Miley Cyrus on us (‘Wrecking Ball’ anyone?). This could’ve been so much more, the music sounds too familiar and yet it has potential. I just don’t like Ayu’s voice here, she’s crying out too much.

Merry-go-round was the B-side on the physical single released in December together with Feel the love. The latter was the better song on the single, but mostly because VERBAL messes up parts of this one. To me, this song is much more Ayu than the previous track, and actually this could’ve fit on an album like ‘LOVE again’ too. I’d take this over Angel anytime, but that doesn’t mean I have to love it. Just kick VERBAL to the curb and I’ll give it another chance.

I heard Lelio some time ago and now in the context of the other tracks I must say it’s a standout track. I wasn’t too enthousiastic about it, but now it’s like a good wake up call. It’s a strong dance track with a lot of production value, Ayu and her team really put their best effort into this. At first I thought I might wanna skip this one, but now I could easily play it on repeat.

NOW & 4EVA is like a throwback to ‘old Ayu’, somehow this is more typical of her. It’s different from all the other tracks since it’s not dance-centric but more power pop, but still it’s the perfect closing track for the album. I also loved her vocals much more, and my goodness how I missed a nice electric guitar solo on this album.

Well, as I admitted earlier I wasn’t fangirling over this album before and to be honest, I won’t be now either. I used to love Ayu’s music so much more before she turned to dance music and her previous album “LOVE again” was on repeat for the entire year of 2013. This one won’t be on repeat, I doubt if I will ever give it multiple listens in a row. Maybe it just needs to grow on me, but I have the feeling this just isn’t my cup of tea. There are some really good songs on this album though, let’s not forget that. But overall, this just doesn’t capture me, as much as I want it to.

Favorite songs: Feel the love | XOXO | Hello new me | Pray | Lelio | NOW & 4EVA

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarblankstarblankstar
3 stars

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