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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2 Comments »

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  1. Nice review!
    I agree with the three stars, too. There are quite a bit of good dance tracks on this album, but most of them suffer from her voice. Ayu should NEVER, and I mean NEVER, use that much English again.

    • Thanks for your comment! I agree, she used too much English for her own good. I remember the time before the ‘RAINBOW’ album, when she stated she only used Japanese in her lyrics to express her feelings better. Those were the days..


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