Ayumi Hamasaki – M(A)DE IN JAPAN

September 12, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

madeinjapan1_zpsc7hizsdqALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – M(A)DE IN JAPAN

1. tasky
2. FLOWER
3. Mad World
4. Breakdown
5. Survivor
6. You are the only one
7. TODAY
8. Mr.Darling
9. Summer Love
10. Many Classic Moments (globe cover)

♦ ♦ ♦

madeinjapan2_zpsa1txra5tM(A)DE IN JAPAN is the seventeenth studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki. It was first released via the Japanese streaming service called AWA on May 11, 2016, and was released physically on June 29, 2016. The album debuted at #2 on the charts and has sold 40,609 copies to date.

After quite some years, Ayu throws in another ‘task’, but this time to open the album. Since the name of the album is M(A)DE IN JAPAN, the Japanese sound of tasky fits the album very well. Halfway through the intro, the traditional sound is mixed with some typical Ayu dance music that really spices things up. It gets me so excited for what’s to come.

FLOWER opens with a similar Japanese vibe, but whoever thinks this is a midtempo track needs to think twice. Near the chorus, the arrangement builds into this amazing rock track that easily fits right in with tracks like ‘Microphone’ and ‘WARNING’. Somehow it’s a bit reminiscent of her older days (‘GUILTY’, anyone?). Overall a great first full-length track.

I really enjoy Mad World, simply because it’s so straightforward Ayu. It’s powerful, but it has a more pop/rock sound than FLOWER had and the melodies in the chorus are very easy on the ears. I must say her vocals are a bit better than in the previous track, she sounds more at ease in her vocal range here.

Breakdown is the album’s big ballad and the way the arrangement is built it could easily be a winter ballad. It features a lot of piano melodies, bells and chimes, and there’s a sense of mystery to it. This song also takes me back a few years, like 6 or 7, back to when she did a couple more songs like this. Not the type of forgettable ballad, so this one will tend to stick.

Now Survivor is quite an interesting track because the opening sounds like it could be the opening to one of her concerts, before leading into a big chanting chorus. I don’t think many of the other songs on this album are as powerful and original as this one and I must say this is the one (together with Many Classic Moments) that stayed with me most of all. A must on the album.

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I like how You are the only one opens with bagpipes, I LOVE bagpipes. The rest of the song kinda takes the middle road between a ballad and a midtempo song, which is quite interesting to hear. The chorus does not fully appeal to me, but it’s far from bad. In the end, it’s a nice track in which Ayu delivers an emotional vocal performance to top it off.

I comparison to the experimental SurvivorTODAY sounds like a safe choice for the album. It’s an uplifting track and there’s some nice power in it, but it’s more mainstream than some of her other songs. That having been said, I think it’s also an underrated song on this album. Ayu’s vocals sound amazing and the arrangement is very nice.

Mr.Darling is a bit like ‘Life’ remastered, but fortunately it does not sound TOO much like it. It’s a pop song, balancing the album in a nice way. However, it does sound a bit generic and the repetition of the line ‘soba ni ite‘ in the chorus kind of annoys me after couple of listens. It’s not bad, but it’s not special either.

Ah, I thought we were missing something and here it is: an Ayu dance track. Summer Love is like ‘You & Me’ and ‘Merry-go-round’ with a lot of energy and synths, and today it feels like no Ayu album is complete without a track like this. It’s catchy, uplifting and suprising in its own way. I like it!

Now I’ve always been a bit on the fence with Many Classic Moments, I don’t know why. It’s nice and I like the fact that it flows nicely from Summer Love, but there’s something to it that just holds me back a little bit. Nonetheless, would this album be better without it? No. Ayu doesn’t do many covers, but when she does, she does them well. This is another example and maybe I need to get a bit more aquainted with it.

I’m very pleased with M(A)DE IN JAPAN, it’s like Ayumi has finally returned to her roots and releases stuff she is actually very good at. No experiments (except for Survivor, then), no goofy stuff as in ‘Party Queen’, just the sound that made her so great as an artist. It’s also not that long, so I don’t show any signs of fatigue after completing this review, haha. It’s a nice album, I have listened to it a couple of times already on my way to work and I don’t remember skipping anything. Good job, Ayu!

Favorite trackstasky | FLOWER | Mad World | Survivor | Summer Love

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarblankstar
4 stars

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