Ayumi Hamasaki – MY STORY

August 6, 2018 at 4:32 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

mystory1ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – MY STORY

1. Catcher In The Light
2. About You
3. GAME
4. my name’s WOMEN
5. WONDERLAND
6. Liar
7. HOPE or PAIN
8. HAPPY ENDING
9. Moments
10. walking proud
11. CAROLS
12. Kaleidoscope
13. INSPIRE
14. HONEY
15. Replace
16. winding road
17. Humming 7/4

♦ ♦ ♦

mystory2MY STORY is the sixth studio album by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, released on December 15, 2004. The album peaked at #1 on the charts and has sold a total of 1,132,444 copies, of which 574,321 copies in its first week.

The album starts true to Ayu’s style with a mostly instrumental intro with some soft chanting/singing. Catcher In The Light does preview the style of the album with its powerful rock arrangement, but it features some ethereal elements reminiscent of the ‘RAINBOW’ era. Cool intro.

About You is the first full blown rock song on the album with more aggressive singing from Ayu herself and an arrangement that is filled with electric guitars and percussion. The lyrics in the chorus are fast paced which fits the overall feel of the song well. I think it’s very memorable and a kickass start of the album.

Then one of the album’s singles/B-sides, GAME swoops in with its dark and cold ambience. That piano intro with Ayu singing softly puts you on the wrong foot before the arrangement explodes into another rock song. I actually like the computerized vocals in the verses for a change, it makes it a fierce track.

The title of my name’s WOMEN has always made me cringe, but I like the fact that it’s a woman empowerment song. It’s more poppy than the previous two tracks but still very strong in its own right, with a synth/electric guitar arrangement to accompany Ayu’s strong vocals. I really like this one as well.

WONDERLAND is one CREEPY interlude. It features that typical creepy carnival music that you hear in merry-go-rounds but soon it gets darker with thunder and evil laughter. I’m actually scared, WHAT IS THIS.

After that ‘interesting’ bit, we get a song that isn’t very well recognized among Ayu’s fanbase and she has never sung it live as far as I know. And although Liar is a more depressing and dark rock song, it is a good one. The verses are calm and brooding while the chorus explodes around you. It’s not special, but it is a well produced track that is solid and memorable.

HOPE or PAIN was my favorite track on this album for a long time because of the melody of the bell-like instrument in the song’s hook. It’s a rock ballad that packs a punch and yet sounds so simple and clean, still one of the best tracks on the album if you ask me.

Despite its title HAPPY ENDING is not a happy song at ALL. But it’s still worth a listen since it’s unique on the album, it’s more of a pop ballad and eases on the rock vibe. The chorus had potential for something more powerful, but the melodies are good enough for me to like it a lot.

Apparently this is the ballad section of the album, because the next one, Moments, is another rock ballad. It was released as the first single and although it’s the third ballad in a row, it’s so different from the others. I really like the instrumental bridge and the lyrics are among the best on the entire album, very poetic.

mystory3The next ballad is walking proud and it still manages to remain very original after that streak of ballads. It’s calmer but yet has an emotional touch to it. I especially like the intro that leads into the track, with the distant guitar. On its way to become a favorite of mine.

The final single of the album is CAROLS, and it’s unique since its a full on ballad instead of a rock ballad. The piano leads the way with Ayu singing along softly, and for once she sings rather happy lyrics instead of depressing ones. Still a bit on edge with some of Ayu’s notes in the chorus, but it doesn’t really matter since the rest of the song is so pretty.

Kaleidoscope is a very calm interlude with soft chimes, strings and synths and echoed effects. It’s just an interlude but it’s nice to have it included and it’s easy on the ears.

Back to the more uptempo stuff. INSPIRE was in my opinion the best A-side of this era with its more Middle-Eastern and sassy approach. Although it’s very different from the sound of Kaleidoscope, somehow both have that mysterious sound going on that I really like. It’s incredibly catchy and fierce, definitely one of the best on the album.

HONEY can be described with two words: poppy and cute. It’s energetic uptempo sugar pop complete with higher pitched vocals by Ayu to complete it. Somehow it reminds me a bit of ‘Trauma’ (on the ‘LOVEppears’ album), but that’s a good thing. This track gives the album a nice touch and it’s a step away from all of the more aggressive stuff.

Replace brings the tempo down a bit in the verses and it sounds a lot calmer, but the chorus is more powerful. It’s happy and along the lines of HONEY but not as sugarcoated and Ayu’s vocals are more mature as well. It does have that ending song vibe to it so maybe this should’ve been placed at the very end of the album.

The entire last section of the album is like an encore since winding road also has that ending song quality going on. It’s a midtempo pop/rock track similar to most of the other songs on the album, but again with a hopeful message to it and beautiful lyrics to match. A little hard to notice at first, but a good track for sure.

Finally, Ayu closes the album in the most original and fun way possible. Humming 7/4 is bound to catch you completely off guard with its aggressive and fast rock arrangement and it’s clear she’s having fun. It’s simple and yet so powerful and that chorus is one of the catchiest on the entire album. This SLAYS.

MY STORY is a VERY long album with a lot of full length tracks that last for four and a half minutes of more, so I had my work cut out for me this afternoon. But it was worth it, since this is one of the best of Ayu’s earlier works. It does feature a much heavier sound, which is why they made a classical version of it in 2005, but it works so well for Ayu. The first part of the album was a bit odd with some more aggressive songs opening, then moving on to a big rock ballad section. This made for a less balanced, but not less enjoyable album since pretty much every track here is solid. I know, each to their own, but I really enjoy this album a lot.

Favorite songsAbout You | GAME | HOPE or PAIN | Moments | CAROLS | INSPIRE | HONEY | Humming 7/4

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

mystory4

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