Tuesday, January 1, 2013

[Album Review] Kaela Kimura - Sync

Can't touch ma weave bitches

When Kaela Kimura made her comeback after giving birth with 8EIGHT8, it didn't turn out to be as good as I had hoped for it to be. The songs are either really good or really shit, and she didn't exactly change her style from where she left off with HOCUS POCUS. This time with her seventh album, Sync, having it produce no hit singles prior to its release, will she be switching things up or still stick with the same sound she's been having since 253 B.C.?

Sync opens up strong with Mamireru. It was the first single to be released off the single and while nobody seems to know what the hell the title even means, it still remains one of my all-time favourite songs of Kaela's. It's a pop song with an edge and catchiness that your fave can never accomplish.

The album continues on with a poppish guitar-driven HERO, which has a rough transition from Mamireru as it's not as edgy and hard-hitting as the latter. There's nothing to write home about with this song, and it doesn't really go anywhere as the song progresses. The arrangement also comes off as a little bland to me. It's good in its own way but it's not something I'd listen to on repeat.

The next song, Sun shower, was released as the second and last single off Sync prior to the album's release. It never impacted me as much as Mamireru did. It's a really light-hearted song with some acoustic elements to it that sounds really sweet and charming. The pace of the song picks up as it goes on and has a really nice build-up towards the climax, so that's what I like about the song. Unfortunately I don't think this should have been released as a single as it falls a bit flat and the melody isn't exactly memorable.

Continuing the flow is coffee, which, not gonna lie, straight up opens up sounding like an LG smartphone alarm clock ringtone, fading in with really soothing music and shit. It then starts to pick up when the percussion comes in. It's like a smoother version of Sun shower, and it sounds like something really suitable to listen to on a warm afternoon! What turns me off about the song is the end of the chorus where she says something like "Looking for the juice for me, and the juice for you" (Edit: Just found out she meant "TRUTH", not "juice". I'm so done.). Wtf is that supposed to even mean? I wouldn't even be surprised if the entire chorus was actually sung in English. I feel like Kaela should either improve her pronunciation skills or stop singing in Engrish altogether. That was a dealbreaker for me with No Reason Why on +1.

Next up is the b-side to Sun shower, Hello, Goodbye, which is actually a cover of The Beatles. First of all, at least her Engrish is actually discernible in this song! 10 points for Kaela! But overall, while you can see how Kaela tried to make her rendition her own with her signature cute, poppy style, it just comes off as a little messy. There's just too much going on in the arrangement and should probably have stayed as a b-side on the single.

Kaela immediately redeems herself with sorry though. Continuing her massive slew of mellow songs, Kaela serves up some mid-tempo goodness with the catchy clapping and melody. While it remains consistently that way throughout the song, the song is of the appropriate length and does not drag on to the point where it's just annoying. It gives off a rather nostalgic vibe as well. She shouldn't be sorry at all for coming up with this song as it's easily one of the better songs that's on this album!

Halfway into the album, everything suddenly changes. MY WAY abruptly starts off with a distinctly rockier sound that's like a combination of HOCUS POCUS' sound and +1's sound. The verses fall off a little flat for me, but the chorus is what mostly makes it for me. It's catchy and memorable, and overall makes the album a little better and is a great respite from all the slow, calm tracks we had for most of the first half of the album.

Synchronicity, the album's titular track I suppose, comes up next and Kaela brings the rock sound up another notch. If you're yearning for Kaela's rockier songs, this is probably the closest you'll get to it. It's only okay though, and the messiness of the arrangement just gets annoying after a while. Kaela's voice during the chorus is simply too thin and doesn't work well here. I can see how this song will work when done live though, given how her live performances are always full of energy and could get a crowd going.

Sync has so far gone from electronic to acoustic, mellow pop to rock and now back to electronic. so i carries a heavier electronic sound compared to Mamireru and it actually sounds more experimental than the latter. The song starts off with a repetitive synth sound before the beat really kicks in and gets you going before exploding at the chorus with her "SO IIIIIIII!!!!"s. So I what? Bitch needs to learn how to complete her sentences. This is one of the more standout tracks from Sync, but its relatively slow tempo and song length may be offputting for some.

Kaela brings the sound down again with Merry Go Round, which first begins with an uplifting, poppy verse that abruptly picks up the pace and blasts off into a rockier chorus. The song doesn't really do anything for me and comes off as a filler track.

Cherry Blossom immediately kicks off with a really catchy "chu-ri-chu-ri-choo-choo" that is repeated many times throughout the song. This is another uplifting pop track that introduces rather jazzy elements to it like the trumpet and drums used in the arrangement. Overall it's one of the better tracks on this album.

Sync closes off with WONDER Volt, which was created for the Japanese film release of Frankenweenie, and you can easily hear the influence that the film has had on the song. It's the most experimental track Kaela has done for this album, which explains why she'd put it as the last song on the album. That way, people like me can stop the album after Cherry Blossom. It's not that it's a bad song. It's not. In fact, I find it to be a unique song that is cute in its own way. Just not my cup of tea I guess.

What I really liked about Sync was how she has offered us variety on this album. There is a wide array of genres in this album compared to 8EIGHT8 or HOCUS POCUS. Maybe that's why she's showcasing three different hideous wigs on the album cover. Unfortunately, however, this has resulted in a poor consistency throughout and while I appreciate the variety, it makes me feel like Kaela is lost and has no idea where she wants to go. She comes off as wanting to be everywhere at the same time, which would explain why we have some songs sounding like a fusion of her previous different styles.

I'm hoping that this is just a phase she's going through where she's experimenting with different styles to see where she wants to head to next, and that this album serves as a transitional album that will lead to even greater things in the future.

Listen to previews here.


Album highlights: Mamireru, sorry, MY WAY, so i, Cherry Blossom

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