BENI – Undress

December 3, 2015 at 2:15 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
BENI – Undress

1. INTRO
2. DO IT RIGHT
3. BFF
4. Forever
5. MEOW
6. Kimi no Kakera
7. Yokogao
8. PAPA
9. DEEP SWEET EASY
10. BABY
11. SAYONARA
12. TATTOO
13. ZERO
14. Fun Fun Christmas

♦ ♦ ♦

Undress is the ninth studio album by Japanese/American singer BENI, and her sixth under the NAYUTAWAVE RECORDS label, released on November 25, 2015. The album ranked at #14 on the Oricon weekly charts, selling 7,281 copies in its first week.

INTRO is just a very serene track with BENI chanting in the background, kinda leading you into the feel of the album. DO IT RIGHT flows straight from it and it sounds very Western, like this is BENI’s American roots speaking. The track is similar to a mix between Selena Gomez and Kygo, a smooth R&B flow with laid back tropical deep house beats and high synths. Not very bombastic, but very nice as the first full track on the album!

BFF opens with soft acoustic guitars, but for the chorus the arrangement swells with percussion, electric guitars and strings. It gives the song just the right touch, and the melodies give it a very sweet and uplifting vibe. When you call a track ‘BFF’, this is what it should sound like. It’s a bit too long, but still very pretty (especially the vocals).

Ahh, there it is, Forever. I loved it on the single and it comes at the right time on this album, making it sounds even better than it already was. The opening still reminds me a bit of “You Can’t Hurry Love”, that same funky vibe, but BENI made this her very own unique and fun song with stellar vocals. I don’t think she has ever done anything like this before and I love her for releasing this as an A-side.

Interesting to call a track MEOW, but oh well. At least the arrangement sounds very interesting, modern and Western again, something that is probably her style for this album. This track is all over the place, and with that I especially mean the chorus, drawing inspiration from types of hardstyle music. I don’t know where she was heading with this, but it’s very quirky and I’m sure some people will hate this x’D

Kimi no Kakera is an R&B midtempo ballad, which is her signature style, but still BENI managed to make this different and in the style of this album, in contrast to what her songs were like back when ‘BITTER & SWEET’ was released. Despite that, and despite me really liking the track, I bet I will soon forget how it goes.

For Yokogao, BENI went for a more soulful and minimalistic approach, singing to a piano and strings only (with some soft percussion). I feel the vocals are a bit too loud, making her sound unstable at times, but on the other hand the emotion in her vocals is well done.

Opening the second half of the album is the midtempo song PAPA, a sweet song for BENI’s daddy. I like the arrangement, very smooth and fitting for this kind of song, and although I can’t understand the lyrics, I get the feeling she sings a sweet song to her father about how much she loves him. Just for that, I would love this.

DEEP SWEET EASY is a drawback for BENI if you ask me. Not that there’s anything very wrong with the song, but it just lacks something outstanding to make it memorable. Despite that, the arrangement is indeed beautiful. It just doesn’t live up to its full potential.

I like the uptempo quality of BABY, it’s like R&B on steroids. It could have had a smoother arrangement, but I feel like I understand the flow of the song more now than I did back when I reviewed it on the ‘Forever’ single. Now I also notice how the music develops throughout the song, adding more fun touches and making it more memorable. BENI, now I feel you.

SAYONARA incorporates more dance influences in its arrangement, and somehow I feel the beats, deep synths and handclaps make it sounds like a 90s dance song will there is still something modern about it. Interesting, and although usually I wasn’t into songs like this, I like this one. I would like to hear BENI do more of this in the future (despite some of the too simple lyrics).

In that same style (albeit a bit more like 90s house), this is the perfect time to cue in TATTOO. I liked this on the ‘Forever’ single for being another song that was not typical for BENI, and I mean that in the best way possible. BENI has always been about the smooth midtempo R&B ballads, but this girl can do uptempo dance and house tracks too and honestly, I like this better on her! One of the most kickass tracks on the album.

Alright, BENI, have it your way, one more midtempo R&B to close the original tracklisting. ZERO is kind of predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. I would have liked this better earlier on the album, though. One thing: did BENI just sing “I don’t give a f***” right before the first chorus??! 😮

CHRISTMAS! Fun Fun Christmas is what it says on the tin: a fun, uptempo song about Christmas, BENI style. Not something you would expect on a regular album, but it’s just a bonus track anyway. I do like the addition of this, it makes me happy! 🙂

At first I was very excited about this album, I loved the first couple of tracks and I had high hopes, even when that weird piece MEOW came along. This is BENI doing something different for a change, and I could get used to that. Weren’t it for the fact that she always manages to add some more generic songs to her album to spoil the fun a bit. Now I would like to make clear that I still have to hear the first bad BENI song, but some of her songs just fail to capture my attention and that’s just too bad because I know what she’s capable of. Luckily, there are some new gems on this album, and I will definitely give it another chance in the future!

Favorite tracks: DO IT RIGHT | BFF | Forever | PAPA | BABY | SAYONARA | TATTOO | Fun Fun Christmas

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
3½ stars

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