Kurayami Monogatari

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Ayumi Hamasaki – Rock’n’Roll Circus April 9, 2010

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 11:34 pm

Track Listing

  1. THE introduction
  2. Microphone
  3. count down
  4. Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~
  5. BALLAD
  6. Last Links
  7. montage
  8. Don’t look back
  9. Jump!
  10. Lady Dynamite
  11. Sexy little things
  12. Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~
  13. meaning of Love
  14. You were…
  15. RED LINE ~for TA~ (album version)

1. THE introduction

Opening up the album is well, another opening interlude from Ayu.  I like the rather uneasy arrangement it gives with it’s dark sound before these synths come in that really instills the whole circus title.  Unfortunately, it seems like it’s the only song even really connected to the whole “Circus” theme.  It’s not bad, but “Mirror” is still leagues better than the last two. 

2. Microphone

I was pleasantly pleased when Microphone was chosen to be one of the 4 promotional songs for the album and clearly, it’s the darkest of all the songs as well.  I love how it opens with pipe organ and then bursting into this very angry song and I just love when Ayu pushes these angsty, pissed off songs because that’s where one of her better strengths lies.  Don’t get me on the verses, they were creepy and almost came off kind of the same way “Marionette” did two albums ago.  LOVE THIS SONG!

3. count down

One of the 3 album tracks not to be given a PV, count down to me I thought was going to be an interlude, but I guess I was wrong.  Just like the previous song, this one has a rather darker feel and tone to it.  Somehow though, it’s not as exciting as I thought it’d be.  The guitar riffs are there and the background stuff is cool, but Ayu just sounds so bored in the chorus and doesn’t really make it climatic.  Maybe this song would’ve fit better on “Secret” or even “MY STORY”.

4. Sunset ~LOVE is ALL~

As the secondary A-side of the first single of the era, Sunset has the same melody as it’s partner, but the major difference is that this song is a ballad.  Now I don’t really agree with having both songs on the album, but at least they’re far apart that it doesn’t strike issues up with me.  It’s a nice summery ballad, but I still prefer the primary A-side to this.

5. BALLAD

Another secondary A-side, actually the last of the era, BALLAD actually turned out better than I thought it would.  If there was a song I would’ve chosen to have been the FFXIII theme, I think BALLAD would’ve made a great choice.  There was this just epic flow to it that pulled things together and even though Ayu’s vocals aren’t that amazing, she did nice for the song.  Even the small Chinese influence was nice as well and possibly making a nod to “GREEN”.

6. Last Links

I was surprised to hear acoustic guitar open up Last Links and then to hear cello come in as well was pretty cool as well.  I don’t know why, but this also seems a little weaker than the other new songs off the album.  It could be because it sounds not her for some reason.  The whole Western pop/rock sound mixed with strings doesn’t really make sense for me. 

7. montage

Our first interlude, montage begins with some bells and then this very alarming and dark orchestral melody starts up and it makes me scratch my head.  Various instruments get short solos and I hear pipe organ again and that made me think…why the hell wasn’t this placed in front of “Microphone” this would’ve made an exceptional opening!  I’ll admit it though I was pretty impressed by this interlude.

8. Don’t look back

I think this is where we’re getting into the more experimental side of the album and with Don’t look back opening up with some sitar and other Indian influences that somewhat parallels “vogue”, Don’t look back seems to be the better track obviously.  Keeping this rather darker form, this song actually surprised me for it’s mix of dance as well.  I do love the ~don’t look back~ parts as that showed a lot of interesting moods coming from Ayu.  This was genius to be honest.  Plus for getting a PV that shows her ruining “A BEST” (or at least that’s what I thought of).

9. Jump!

I think Jump! is the “Mirror” of the album, in a way that this interlude should’ve been made full because this song is definitely a nod back to “NEXT LEVEL” with “rollin'” and “Sparkle” with it’s electro-based arrangement and exciting climaxes.  Mostly it’s Ayu ad-libbing across the song and with some people chanting ~JUMP!, JUMP!, JUMP!~  I have hope for this song becoming a full-on track like “Mirrorcle World”.

10. Lady Dynamite

I think of the four songs used to promote the album, Lady Dynamite is my least favorite of the four.  While it does contain a bit of synths in the song, but it feels like they just added the rock influences to make it more harder sounding, but she could’ve been alright without it here.  It’s alright, but it’s definitely not one for me to remember.

11. Sexy little things

I love Ayu when she tries to push boundaries in music and I think she did with Sexy little things which stylistically can be classified an electro-swing kind of tune.  That being said, I don’t think there’s anything like it and I love that.  Bout the song, I thought it was clearly one of her strongest tunes if it wasn’t for “Microphone” taking up that slot.  Ayu’s more faster paced and staccato style of singing was what gave the song life and the synths really made me giddy.  It’s a stylish song and I loved it to death.

12. Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~

As the primary A-side, Sunrise was definitely your typical summer A-side “Blue Bird”, “fairyland”, “glitter”, etc.  That being said, it’s no surprise that Ayu kind of had to turn up the volume and make more of a chant-able tune so I don’t blame her for doing such a thing.  Like I said before, I do enjoy this a bit more that “Sunset” so that’s definitely a good thing.  I think on a good day, I can really enjoy it since it’s fun and peppy, just what I need in a day.

13. meaning of Love

As the only NEW ballad on the album, meaning of Love just falls a little short for me because well, Ayu is pushing where ballads are starting to become more mundane and boring to listen to.  meaning of Love sadly falls into that category since it reminds me of a fuller sounding “Curtain call”.  Then again, I’m sure other people will compare this to “CAROLS” or something and I don’t blame em’.  This song just isn’t that amazing and she still has way better ballads.

14. You were…

Which unfortunately leads to our primary A-side on the last single of the era.  You were… is still having a hard time catching me in its grasp because we just had “Days” a year beforehand!  For the winter song of the era, You were… isn’t so bad and I said I did like the chorus from this one better than the one on “Days” but there’s just something that feels rather ripped off.  Ok, it’s alright, but it’s definitely not better than “BALLAD”.

15. RED LINE ~for TA~ [album version]

As the last song for the album, we get the B-side from “You were…/BALLAD”.  I’m not sure the exact differences but I’m sure it’s that extra minute that was added here that made it the difference.  There might’ve been some sound differences in the main song, but to me it feels very much like the same thing which was pop/rock, but it’s special since it’s for Team Ayu.  So the extra long minute is actually located at the end where the song fades to just Ayu ~la-la-la-ing~, which by the time we get there already got repetitive and annoying… at least she finishes up with singing acappella.

Tracks Recommended

  • Microphone
  • Sexy little things
  • BALLAD
  • Don’t look back
  • Sunrise ~LOVE is ALL~

Song of Avoidance

  • count down

After going through Rock’n’Roll Circus, I came to the conclusion that this was a much smoother album to deal with than with both “NEXT LEVEL” and even “GUILTY”.  It seems we’re getting more better and even the interludes sound better, but they could’ve placed them a whole lot better here, to be quite honest.  The new songs were overall pretty good, except for those 3 that were luckily not chosen to promote the album!  Definitely her best as of recent.