Wednesday, September 4, 2013

[Album Review] Namie Amuro - FEEL

"Feeling for my moustache. I think I forgot to shave!"

Uncontrolled was something quickly put together without much creative input from herself, said Namie Amuro. To put it harshly, Namie thought Uncontrolled was a hot mess. Concept-wise, maybe, but 1 year later I'm still finding Uncontrolled to be a stellar album, which is why FEEL has a lot of expectations to live up to.

Especially with only one single released prior, which ended up being one of her lowest selling singles anyway (yeah yeah enough talk about how it's only one version, sales are declining blah blah blah. We all know the real reason for its crap sales was its hideous cover). So this time, Namie is taking the driver's seat and steering that wheel HARD.

One thing Namie carried over from Uncontrolled was its Engrish-fest. The only songs that are NOT predominantly English are Poison and Contrail. Heck, I don't even know if I'm correct because Namiengrish sounds like Japanese anyway.

If you're looking into some EDM-realness that slaps you hard across the face, Alive is definitely right up your alley. The almost haunting "shallot broking glass" build-up shit at the beginning is a perfect start to the album. It's the kind of songs that kinda have common-ass lyrics where she simply sings about wanting someone to love her in order to "make her feel alive" - talk about a needy ho. But the highlight of the song definitely comes when the bass drops. HARD. Take some cues, ayumi hamasaki. Nobody's here for light, fluffy, songs with orchestrated strings and a sprinkle of pixie dust and shit anymore.

I like to call songs like Alive "pasar malam (night market) music" because every time I walk past one in Singapore they'd always play cheap, tacky techno music that is all about the music and not about the words. Not that I'm comparing Alive to tacky ass crap, but that's just what I like to call these songs for the lulz.

"Oops, guess I'm gonna be one of the top-selling female solo
artists yet again this year."
Take Rainbow, strip it down to just a simple guitar, pop-rock arrangement, and translate the words to English and you have a Taylor Swift song ready to order. "Peekcheez, in boxes, your t-sheets, I threw them out!" Holy shitballs gurl, WTF? "I drove away from the parking lot"? REARRY? Admittedly, it's a catchy song that has a really interesting arrangement with both 8-bit and dubstep elements. It took me a while for the song to grow on me though. Overall, it's a nice song, except when she sings "I'm breaking out like a shooting star". Coming from a growing teenager who's regularly having acne breakouts from academic stress, that does NOT sound good. *shudders* Not even seeing the rainbow could save me from the traumatic mental imagery now.

Can You Feel This Love is one of those peppy, energetic songs that just hooks you in immediately. Who doesn't want to start their week in a big way, right? My only complaint is that it gets annoying to hear her CAN YOU FEEL THIS LOVE? CAN YOU FEEL THIS LOVE? over and over again. YES I CAN FEEL THIS LOVE SO MUCH I'M HAVING A RAGING BONER ALREADY, HOW ABOUT THAT?

This energy is brought across to Big Boys Cry, but kinda falls flat simply because it's placed in an album with SO many amazing songs that are of a standard that is way past that of Big Boys Cry. It's a shame because it is a good song, but I can't help but think that it's been placed in the wrong album, yknow what I'm sayin'?

But I have to say it gels well into Hands On Me, which is my FUCKING JAM! All I need is that "OH OH OH" and drums to get me dancing right away. BOMBARD, ASSAULT, ATTACK just gets me all the damn time because I had absolutely NO IDEA what she was saying when I first heard the song. I lavvit. I lavvit when Namie leaves me clueless. This song uses a lot of percussion, which I absolutely love. Couple that with yet again more pasar malam music realness in the chorus and that easily makes Hands On Me one of the highlights of the album. It just gets better and better as the song progresses.

If you're looking into more western-sounding songs on this album, you have it right away with HAIR-BOON, produced by Zedd. Alright, I'm not gonna lie, it is undoubtedly yet another run-of-the-mill electro-pop song imported over from the west but hey, I'm a sucker for those. We're all suckers for those. And also because it's sung by Namie which makes me like it even more. I'm biased like that. With her going "bada bada di bada di bada boom" like that it's hard to NOT like the song. I'm pretty sure Namie herself has no idea wtf she's singing half of the time. "You give me ransom and you give me power to go high" ??? ??? ???

Poison came off annoying to me as first, what with its WUB WUB WUB WUB followed by those weird-ass sounding screeches in the arrangement. It proved to be yet another grower for me because I originally found that it was just soooo slow and repetitive and reminded me of Steal my night which still remains crap to my ears. Nonetheless, though, it managed to get itself stuck in my head for many days after listening to it so it has definitely won me over.

"Hello, haven't I seen your face before?
Didn't you flop on the charts before?
Got me thinkin' bout La La La
Nothing better than La La La"
La La La is one of the more laid-back electronic songs on this album and is probably the only song that doesn't sit quite right with me until now. It's like I kinda like it... but I kinda don't? It's the kind of song that I'd only listen to when it comes up on shuffle on my music player, let's just say that.

I'm pretty sure Beautiful was left out of this album in favour of Let Me Let You Go. I did like Beautiful but I didn't think she had the right voice for a song like that, and then she goes ahead and does it again for Let Me Let you Go. I remained optimistic at first - at least there isn't that lol factor in the form of "supplies" in a serious ballad like Beautiful.

I was wrong. "Every time you leave, you see, it's never REARRY over!" FUCK ME. I burst out laughing and may have even fallen off my chair and knocked myself unconscious. She doesn't even say that once - but TWICE! It's no suppliiiiiiiiies... it's no suppliiiieeesssss..... And it doesn't even end there. I found out that what I thought was "I don't wanna hang on to this love no more" ended up being "I don't wanna hang on to this ROPE no more". Fuck my life x2. Bitch is pulling a Koda "dodge the bullet bullet" Kumi on me. If anything, bitch needs to stop hanging on to that rope and start picking up that audio dictionary. Nasty ho.

Supernatural Love on the other hand was serving me intense K-Pop REALNESS! Homegurl is serving me Westernized J-Pop with a touch of K-Pop all in one album. Come on. Of course, with K-Pop comes the liberal use of autotune. Not that I'm complaining because it definitely works in this song, and is easily one of the best from FEEL. Now all I want is for Namie to BRING IT with a back-busting choreography without lip syncing it live just to show BoA how to really do your shit right.

Contrail was released as a digital single and I'm not gonna lie, I held back on listening to it until I received my copy of the album and I was not disappointed. I fucking love it; it's like the equivalent of ONLY YOU / Fight Together on Uncontrolled, except the added percussion bits really brought up the grandeur of the song. And bitch actually dumbfounded me with the word "contrail". Who the heck even uses that word? At least I now know what she meant in "I didn't know that / Well, I know now". Same same, sista.

Stardust In My Eyes brings a perfect, grand closure to FEEL. It's all about the strings, and then even MORE strings. YAS. It's like colours shoot a close the sky. And she actually says the word "stratosphere" in this song. Say what? The build-up and the change of tempos really made this song for me, and adds on to the cohesiveness of the album: from wanting someone to love her and make her feel alive at the beginning, Namie is now gushing about a love that is like stardust in her eyes. Either that or she probably hasn't had her apartment cleaned in weeks.

I feel like FEEL (HAR HAR HAR) is a culmination of everything starting from PAST < FUTURE. Not that PAST < FUTURE is a bad album - it has its own unique merits as well because it encompasses that Namie sound. With that said, the issue with FEEL is that despite its comprehensive theme, concept and everything, the songs themselves do not scream that "Namie Amuro" identity.

But I will still give her props for this "risk". What makes FEEL such a great album in my opinion definitely has to do with the fact that this is coming from Namie Amuro - a woman who is in her 21st year in the music industry. She is that one female solo singer who is able to go back to her roots YET deliver something completely fresh and relevant to us once again. WHEN WILL YOUR FAVE TO BE HONEST??? WHEN WILL LOVE AGAIN DO THAT TO BE HONEST???

The fact that Namie and her forehead is able to churn out something similar yet different from Uncontrolled within one year proves that she is still a force to be reckoned with in J-Pop, no doubt, and while many still condemn her for not writing her own material, you cannot deny that she is a smart woman who knows how to play all the right cards. She KNOWS what's hot, and she will no doubt drop it like it's fucking hot.

It must really feel great to be Namie. I remember back then everybody thought Namie was over after Ayu and Kuu came along. Who would have thought 10 years down the road the tables would turn and Namie would ultimately be the one throwing shade at everybody with their weaves she snatched? It must feel fucking amazing.

Listen to previews here.


Album highlights: Alive, Can You Feel This Love, Hands On Me, Heaven, Poison, Supernatural Love, Contrail, Stardust In My Eyes



    Where have you been? Love this review, somehow i sang that "feeling my mustache..." in Yeah-Oh's melody.

    I like all the songs, i can't lie. I love this album, but i noticed that for Namie's standards... it is quite short, just 43 mins!!!?

    I jsut have a personal grudge with Let Me.. Because it seems that whenever i'm listening to it, my ex is singing it :'(

    Still, great album. I enjoyed it throughly.

    1. Hahaha schoolwork's been a reeeaaalll bitch! I think many are also able to relate to Let Me Let You Go as well... but just not me lol. Yeah album is short as heck! Every time I listen to short albums it makes me crave for more and I end up spinning the album one more time. Namie be a sneaky bitch. I heard the tour's good as well!

  2. OMG thank GOD your back!!! I didn't know where to go for my J-Pop central. Thought you died. Good to know thats not the case lol. Gotta admit though uncontrolled should have been called singles selection with engrish songs thrown in. FEEL even though it was rushed with a so so single is way more bearable, engrish and all. appreciate the new sounds -let me let you go (hot mess). they aint got nothing on past<future though


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