Angela Aki – BLUE02/09/2013 at 9:26 PM | Posted in Angela Aki | Leave a comment
Tags: album, angela aki, blue, review
Angela Aki – BLUE
3. Foolish Love
4. Koi no Kakehiki
6. In My Blood
7. You and I
9. Kokoro no Tenkiyohou
11. Yoake Mae no Inori
13. One Family ~Uchuu no Nagisa~
Well, I guess marriage and pregnancy do some wonderful things for a classy gal like Angela Aki. BLUE is one of her best albums to date and it’s just really refreshing and I think Angela knew it would be because that’s the kind of album she clearly wanted to make. You can just tell, from the cover, to the tracks themselves, it just exudes a new and fresh attitude. It’s an album I’ve really enjoyed listening to over and over.
And yes I really am going to try to just jump right back in to reviewing everything like I used to, but give me time.
The album starts with a small introduction called “Aiueo”. It’s completely beautiful. It’s one of those introductions that I wish to God had been a full song. It’s pretty traditional Angela fare in that it’s just Angela and the piano which is fairly simple yet haunting and evocative. Since it isn’t a full song, I am really glad it’s a bit longer than most intros, clocking in at around two minutes long. The lyrics themselves are pretty interesting in that almost every time she says the title, it means something different. I’m not sure I understand how it works but hey, clever girl.
Score – 8
“Kokuhaku” was Angela’s first and only single for this album, not that that bothers me at all. It was typical for an upbeat Angela track, but I did like that she changed things up a little bit in the structure of the song itself.
Score – 8.5
“Foolish Love” comes in a bit awkwardly after such an upbeat song as it’s a somber mid tempo number that lyrically reminded me of The Truth Is Like A Lie from Angela’s half English, half Japanese album LIFE. I quite liked the building up that happened before each chorus with the line “Atashi baka mitai” which means “I look like a fool” and of course the chorus itself
Again we jump around from somber back to upbeat with “Koi no Kakehiki” which means “Love’s Strategy”. I loved the entire concept of the lyrics as Angela explains what happens when you start to like someone, and how you start to act towards them as a result. It’s cute and totally it’s a song I can really relate to. You can practically hear the smile on Angela’s face as she sings about how she truly feels. The choruses containing my favorite lyrics of course, like “But the truth is, I want to kiss you so hard it would seem like an attack, and I want to follow you around until it seems like a crime.” The playful strings featured throughout the song really bring everything together and it instantly became one of my favorite songs off of this album.
Score – 8.5
One more, changing gears a lot, we go to a typically grandiose Angela ballad with “Cry”. I will say right now, I don’t like the song. Heard a preview of it early on and didn’t know what to think, and after all this time I just don’t like it and I almost always skip it while listening to this album. I feel like other than the vocals, everything else just sounded like a bunch of her older ballads mashed and Frankenstein-ed together. The vocals are different, yes, when she sings the words “Cry” over and over again, but I hate it, it gets to the point of annoying me, though I commend her for changing things up a little in the vocal department.
Score – 6
“In My Blood” up until very recently was another song I would skip along with Cry since they are right next to each other. I’ve started to listen to this completely English song a little more lately though and have found it to not be so bad. It has one redeeming factor. It completely changes gears for a bit in the middle of the song. An awesome drawn out guitar and piano section with chimes and vocals with a completely different feel from the rest of the song. The best part is that it perfectly melds back into the last half of the song. So while still not completely ideal, it’s now at least a bit tolerable, still skip it sometimes though 😛
Score – 6.5
“You and I” (no relation to a particular Lady Gaga track with a similar title) is quite a cute and fun song which starts out with sole ukulele and Angela’s vocals and of course later becomes more involved with relaxed percussion and guitar. Naturally, the song has a laid back and relaxed sound that I quite enjoyed as a break in the middle of the album and I feel like it does that perfectly. Other than that I feel like there isn’t much else to say about it.
Score – 7.5
It might be weird, and I’m wondering if it’s just coincidence or not, but “Monster” definitely gives me Monsters Inc. vibes (as in the Disney and Pixar movie). It’s totally fine though, because what is this song about? Your typical monster under the bed and in the closet of course! The song itself is quite jazzy and just really fun sounding. Angela is really playfully with the vocals as she ranges from quick guttural notes to whispering the lyrics at tunes. Her ability to create a vivid picture really shines here. For me, Monster is the beginning of a trio of the best songs on the album.
Score – 9
Next up is “Kokoro no Tenkiyohou” ( I love the title, which means “Weather Forecast of the Heart”) and it would be typical but Angela’s writing ability makes it stand out for me. There’s really nothing stand out about the music either, but for whatever reason I’m in love with it. The choruses are the highlight of the song of course and the way she drags out the Japanese word for rain, “ame” makes me love it even more. I also like when songs progress lyrically and in this one, by the end, when she’s finally going to be over the heartbreak, instead of singing of rainy weather, she’s singing of clear skies. Just the way the piano and heightened strings are playing really drives the song home and makes it end on a terrifically upbeat note.
Score – 9
Now for the final song in the trio, it’s “factory” manages to be probably the best song on the album. It’s fun and energetic and the quickened pace of the lyrics is like a breath of fresh air for the album. It starts out with chimes giving the song an air of mystery as the miscellaneous sounds machinery, mechanisms, klinks, klangs and windings fill your ears, you get the idea I’m sure. The terminology featured in the lyrics makes everything that much better and fitting. “Tetsu no PURAIDO, ARUMI no yume wa. Kanpeki na kinou muda ga nai no sa” which means “Iron Pride, Aluminum Dreams. Running perfectly, there’s not a thing that doesn’t work”. The concept of being robotic, running like clockwork, like mindless workers in a factory, fitting in to a certain mold that sort of thing, but then breaking out of that shell. It’s something that really resonated with me.
Score – 9.5
“Yoake Mae no Inori” is the kind of grand Angela ballad that I tend to like, and upon my first bunch of listens, I did, however lately, it’s fallen out of favor and become a song that I sometimes feel like skipping. It might not be that it’s bad and I’ve only just realized, but that I’ve become tired of it, though clearly there are songs that I will never tire of, this unfortunately has become one that I have. The overall arrangement is pretty and the lyrics tug on your heartstrings as you can really feel the emotion and emphasis, especially in the repetition. So I guess it is a fine song, but it’s not one I would listen to more than once at a time.
Score – 7.5
“BLUE” brings the album to a close nicely. The song is upbeat and has a completely tropical vibe going on, I can practically hear the waves and palm trees swaying in the breeze. I thought it was cool because it sounds totally different than anything she’s ever done before. The extended ending of the song really works well as an album closer.
Score – 8
OK so yeah there is one more song but in my eyes it doesn’t really count and the album really does end with BLUE. “One Family ~Uchuu no Nagisa~” is just a different version of the same song from Angela’s previous album WHITE. In a way it’s heightened yet it’s calm and stripped down a bit. More orchestral than anything else. I like it though, and maybe even more than the original, though I haven’t heard much of the original as it’s not one of the songs on WHITE that sticks out to me, so yeah, just OK.
Score – 7.5
As I said, this album is wonderfully refreshing and definitely works to revitalize Angela as an artist, not that she really needed it. A queen of quality and consistency, she delivers another stellar album with BLUE and as always, leaves me wanting more, in a good way. As much as I love the “old” Angela, I really hope this new side to her continues on for a while.