Sunday, August 5, 2012

[Album Review] Angela Aki - BLUE

Angela's last good studio album was ANSWER in 2009. LIFE almost became as good as that but some of the English tracks were just meh, and I refuse to acknowledge WHITE as part of her discography. WHITE was obviously a rushed release because of her pregnancy and I can count the number of good tracks on just one hand. Oh wait, I can even count the number of tracks on the entire album with both my hands. Top that along with the fact that 2 of the songs were unnecessary, reductive self-covers. That's how rushed that shit was. Angela is in need of a good redemption with her 7th studio album, BLUE, before her career drops down to the bottom of the blue sea.

First of all, I'm learning basic Japanese now so the first track Aiueo will surely help me in memorising the katakana chart. Ur hur hur. Sure. Wholly written, composed and arranged by Angela herself, I thought this made for a very interesting introductory track with a very soothing element to it.

It then moves on to the only single released from this album, Kokuhaku, and I have to say I fucking love Kokuhaku. I think it's a great respite from all her previous piano-driven songs. Sure it's not a complete 180-degree change, but this could be the first step towards her reinvention! This was definitely an appropriate lead single, although it's a pity that with this being tied-in with an anime and all, it still tanked on the charts. I have to say the single cover is absolutely banging though.

We get back to the good ol' Angela Aki sound back with Foolish Love, but I think this song had a more westernised pop sound compared to material from her first few albums. This song gets forgettable and dull really easily though; I was pretty much bored by the time the climax came. Cry is also reminiscent to her older material, except it definitely sounds fuller in production. Angela also showcases some of her vocal prowess here! Like wowowow! Gurl just wants to cryyy*YYY*yyy. Koi no Kakehiki is another forgettable track that just sounds like the love child of Sign and Bop Bop Bop.

Angela then dishes up some Jazz experimentation goodness with In My Blood in its catchy instrumentation and melody. But you know what it sounds like? ooooOOO. oooOO. NOW RUMOUR HAS IT SHE AIN'T GOT YOUR LOVE ANYMORE. Sorry, I just had to. This song however later transitions into a more poppier sound we're more familiar with towards the middle before going back to the verses with its thumping jazz beats. This track is also entirely in English, but unlike some of the English songs on LIFE, this one isn't shit! I think this is one of the standout tracks of the album with its unique and distinct sound.

You and I is a light, airy pop song that starts off with a ukulele before Angela starts singing with similarly fluid vocals. I thought this was a rather lulz song I don't even know how to describe it because there's just so much going on in the song. At one point she goes on to sing in the tune of some classical song I don't remember the name of and then later on Angela just sounds like she's on crack, speaking really quickly and shit.

Monster is once again a jazz-inspired track, except this is cheesy as hell and pales in comparison to In My Blood. Nobody's going to take a song titled "Monster" seriously unless it's Lady Gaga. Even Arashi's Monster sounded like a joke. NEXT.

Kokoro no Tenkyohou starts off with a calming piano instrumentation before we have some strings and then some. But before we go any further into this, I would like to shout out a word to Angela really loudly that starts with an L -- LAZY! She did not just sample One Family's melody for the verses. But you know what? This time, it worked. In fact, it sounds sooo epic especially with the chorus together with the build-up of the climax. In this rare case of a song, both the verses and chorus sound equally amazing. One of the best songs of the album!

factory is another upbeat song from Angela that also sounds rather cheesy. Yea, that's all I have to say about it. Nothing special.

Yoake Mae no Inori is another depressing-ass ballad the moment you hear the first note, and that's what I'm always looking forward to hearing from Angela. That sounded rather sadistic, but yea. It sounds disturbingly like something BoA would sing but thank god it's Angela singing it instead.

I'm not here for the hawaiian-sounding mess that is BLUE. This is probably the worst titular track she's offered us in her entire career, and... I don't even know what to think about it. Leave this to be sung in private to your child instead, Angela-san.

One Family ~Uchuu no Nobisu~ is essentially a lame orchestra version of a self-cover. Original is better, that's all. Her vocals sound the same as the original anyway, so she should've just named it One Family (Orchestra version) and called it a day instead of some Nabisu shit. I'm not here for more crap that was already on WHITE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! *flips table with the tens and thousands of the unsold copies of WHITE*

Has Angela managed to redeem herself with this album? Not quite, but nonetheless she passes. For now. Not as good as her material before ANSWER, but definitely better than LIFE and WHITE. I do, however, think that this is her most well-produced record to date. Every song just sounds so full and rich. Not to mention her vocals, as always, are A++++. Even after 6 years in the industry her vocals do not show any sign of deterioration! She might wanna offer some tipz to ayumi hamasaki.

Music-wise, though, I feel like it does sound fresher than her older material. I get the sense that Angela is trying hard to break out of the mould of always creating the same old piano-driven pop songs, but somehow she's still constantly restricted in her sound. You can tell that she's trying to experiment with songs like In My Blood, Monster, and very unfortunately... BLUE, but somehow it's just not enough, and not only is it not enough, it's also a step in the wrong direction. She is in need of help before things take a turn for the worse. Nonetheless, this album was a good effort. I just hope that Angela will be able to evolve her sound more with her future releases as she has demonstrated in Kokuhaku. Do it step by step before getting your act together, gurl.

Listen to previews here.


Album highlights: Aiueo, Kokuhaku, Koi no Kakehiki, In My Blood, You and I, Kokoro no Tenkyohou, Yoake Mae no Inori

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