Namie Amuro – _genic

June 12, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Namie Amuro – _genic

1. Photogenic
2. Time Has Come
3. Golden Touch
4. Birthday
5. It
6. Scream
7. Fashionista
8. Fly
9. B Who I Want To B (feat. Hatsune Miku)
10. Stranger
11. Every Woman
12. Space Invader
13. Anything
14. What I Did For Love (David Guetta feat. Namie Amuro)

♦ ♦ ♦

_genic is the twelfth studio album by Japanese singer Namie Amuro. The album was released on June 10, 2015 in three different versions (CD+Blu-ray, CD+DVD and CD Only).

The album opens with Photogenic, which has this amazing guitar riff in the background that makes it a bit more groovy instantly. Also it seems Namie is gonna stick to English for most of her tracks, and she pulls it off quite well again. Not an explosive opening track or anything but I think the chorus is so catchy I still like it very much!

Time Has Come has a very interesting arrangement! It opens with a synthy EDM-ish introduction before it slows down with a piano tune in the verses. It reminds me of another track I’ve heard sometime before, but I can’t even come up with the artist so w/e. Anyway, English again, executed well, and also another very catchy tune indeed.

Namie’s vocals sound a little off in Golden Touch, probably because of the higher pitch so I’ll just let it pass. Also, this is a very memorable and strong track with a little ‘One Thing’ (by Amerie) vibe going on with the percussion and brass instruments. I think her long time fans (like myself) will definitely like this.

What’s up with all these b-day songs lately?! So I saw the MV for Birthday last month or so and I thought it was pretty much fun. The song itself is very empty if you put your critic cap on, but it’s freaking enjoyable nonetheless. So would I describe this happy slappy dance track as a guilty pleasure? Oh yes.

No song would be better at this point than It, since after the b-day song it opens in a playful way with the rhythmic whistles which I loved. I can’t help myself and it’s impossible for me to sit still to this one, especially because of the nice rhythm and piano tune in the background. Short, but love this.

Scream is a fast paced dance track with a summer vibe to it, though I don’t really know why. It’s probably because of the use of the synths, it just reminds me off all these beach dance tracks. I must say Namie’s vocals are top notch here, she slays the chorus! I don’t even mind the English having gone completely out the window here, small detail.

By now I have added all the previous songs to my fave list (sorry for the SPOILER), and another candidate is Fashionista. It’s a busy song with a lot going on like heavy beats, synths, brass, high pitched vocals in the chorus, oompfh. It’s not quite there for me yet but I bet this will grow that extra 5% on me so that it will belong among the favorites in time.

If someone has a clue of what she’s singing about in Fly, please, sign me in will ya. Still, another uptempo basher that is quite catchy and definitely enjoyable so I’m willing to forgive Namie for her bad English. After a while it already grows on me and I’m starting to like it more and more.

The feature on this track was apparently a surprise. Namie has gone robotic, OMG. Can I just say I feel uncomfortable listening to HATSUNE MIKU’s (Hakuna Matata’s xD excuse me) vocals? It’s silly, its arrangement is lacking and it’s just… bad? Slip-up.

Stranger sounds like a louder and updated version of what Namie did in the past with some songs on ‘Uncontrolled’. I can only think of one place where this song would be suitable on the playlist, and that is in a packed-to-the-roof night club. It’s literally all over the place and you either love it or hate it. Unless you’re me. Then you can neutrally handle it.

Every Woman seems to continue the major streak of EDM songs here but it still easier on the ears than Stranger and I like the playful verses. It’s definitely sassy and I love the addition of the brassy synths, gives it more of an 80s feel while still sounding like a modern song. Interesting composition and I really seem to like it.

I definitely wasn’t expecting Space Invader to sound like this! Among all these fast paced EDM songs there is also room for a smoother one and it’s like a breath of fresh air. Her English is also easier to understand, but sometimes I wish it wasn’t (I’m not gonna mention the ‘rocket in my face‘ lyric since the lyrics have a hidden sexual vibe to them, oh wait, I just did). Nonetheless, LOVE IT.

I already heard the entire song Anything and I saw the MV as a whole a couple of weeks ago, and now I must say this slow song is sooooo welcome. Finally there is some room for guitar music in the arrangement! It just feels a little weird after Space Invader, but oh well, I really like the positive ambience of it. The album would’ve been one big mash-up without this track so this deserves extra credit.

As the closing track there is the bonus What I Did For Love (David Guetta feat. Namie Amuro). Is it just me or has Namie’s English just magically improved for just this one track? Oh dem producers. I heard this track with Emeli Sandé doing the vocals and it didn’t impress me. Does it impress me now? Well, it’s about the same. It just feels like it’s tacked on to the end of the album without a purpose.

I’m very satisfied with this album, and mostly the first half of it. After that, the album is starting to feel like one big mash-up of dance tracks and I think Namie would’ve done good to add some midtempo’s to the album. Anything feels like the odd one out, but that’s just what makes it more welcome if you know what I mean. Finally room to breathe. Still, Namie has done the best she can and I can see myself loving this album even more in the future. Most of the tracks are very enjoyable, sometimes you just have to listen to up to three of them at a time to not get overcome by all the energy. Amazing album, BUT: handle with care! Small detail: her English seems to have deteriorated for this album, but I couldn’t understand her anyway so…

Favorite songs: Photogenic | Time Has Come | Golden Touch | Birthday | It | Scream | Every Woman | Space Invader | Anything

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

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SHINee – Odd

June 11, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Posted in SHINee | 2 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
SHINee – Odd

1. Odd Eye
2. Love Sick
3. View
4. Romance
5. Trigger
6. Farewell My Love
7. An Ode To You
8. Alive
9. Woof Woof
10. Black Hole
11. An Encore

♦ ♦ ♦

Odd is the fourth Korean album by South Korean boy group SHINee, released on May 18, 2015. On May 26, 2015, they released a B Version of the album. Both versions feature the same tracklist but come with different covers, photobooks, posters and member cards.

Odd Eye opens the album in a slow way, not what I was expecting but it definitely has an interesting sound. It’s like mellow R&B with some good raps by Minho in the verses, it spices things up a bit. After a while I get used to the sound of the track as a whole and I guess I like it, it just needs to grow on me a little bit more.

In the style of Replay, Love Sick is the mature version of that song putting SHINee’s masculinity in the spotlights. The roles are reversed here, now that the girl is the one who is love sick. The song has a very nice tempo to it, and I love the central role of the synths in the music and the amazing vocals (Onew!).

View is like new ground for SHINee since it’s a house track with a very catchy and danceable arrangement with keyboard chords. I understand immediately why this is the lead track, it just sounds like one of those songs that is put on repeat on major radio stations. Nice fact: Jonghyun wrote the lyrics! Another nice fact: this is one of the few house tracks that I actually LIKE!

So apparently SHINee decided to incorporate a couple of styles on their new Korean album. Romance is so different from View in that it has a funky pop style with a lot of guitar riffs that are actually quite catchy. The cowbells in the background actually reminded a little of ‘Blurred Lines’, is that weird? Just put Pharrell Williams in Korea and he’ll probably come up with a tune like this. Shoobeedooooo…

Of all the songs on the album, Trigger is probably influenced by hiphop the heaviest and it forms such a contrast with the lighter sound of the previous tracks. There are definitely some amazing parts in this track, mostly the parts where the music really breaks loose. In my opinion this track should’ve been a little less mellow, the chorus barely stands out to me.

Oooh, 90s synth music. The music of Farewell My Love is low tempo and it actually feels like a mix between 90s because of the lovely synth and piano notes and modern music because of the snappy beats. This song draws my attention more than Trigger did, also because the vocals are so much better here. They’re showing off their amazing vocal techniques which I think they should do in every single track. This is smooooth!

And now a ballad, wow these guys keep surprising me. An Ode To You sounds romantic by the title alone, but the music is also breathtaking with just a piano and strings opening. It sounds like one of those songs you’d expect in a romantic movie during a ballroom scene or something like that, it’s very pretty! It’s just so different from the rest of the songs I’d probably want this as the last track, even despite the addition of percussion and electric guitars near the end.

Bringing back the hiphop flavor in a much better way than Trigger did, there is Alive. From the very first moment that crackling beat started I’m feeling this so much. The absolute star of this song is Key with his amazing deep vocals and raps with Minho. This offers me so much more to enjoy that if there’s a competition between this and Trigger, this song would win any day. One of the absolute favorites!

Woof Woof is a very interesting track because of it’s swing and jazz influences which I liked very much, the guys handle it all so well! SHINee and brass instruments sounds so crazy it’s too good to be true. The guys are always energetic but now I can almost feel their energy bursting through my speakers. This song is CRAZY!

Black Hole sounds so… safe after all those interesting and surprising tracks preceding it. It may be one of the shortest songs on the album, but on this note it’s also the most forgettable to me too. I do like the disco sound, haven’t encountered that here yet. So it’s not bad or anything.

Closing the album there is, ofcourse, a ballad, but I think it has the perfect feel for it to be placed here! An Encore has a breathtaking chorus that makes me want to put this song on replay, and the fact that the song’s focus is on the vocals makes it even more perfect. It’s one of those songs you don’t just listen to, you can feel it as well. Love this!

I started this review on May 26, but then I got so caught up in writing my bachelor thesis that I didn’t finish it until now. I must admit the first couple of tracks didn’t really excite me like crazy, so that’s probably why I put it on hold. I didn’t expect to eventually like this album this much! From View on, it almost becomes perfection! SHINee always has a certain style, but with this album they haven’t only matured, they also showed so many different sides of themselves as a group. I love it when an album incorporates many styles, so this is definitely an awesome new addition to my music collection. Thanks SHINee!

Favorite songs: Love Sick | View | Farewell My Love | An Ode To You | Alive | Woof Woof | An Encore

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

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