Kurayami Monogatari

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MELL – MIRAGE October 27, 2010

Filed under: MELL — solarblade @ 3:53 am

Track Listing

  1. mirage
  2. KILL
  3. Princess bloom
  4. Fascination
  5. FIXER
  6. Sabaku no Yuki
  7. Proof
  8. Teleportation guy
  9. Love illusion
  10. Infection
  11. RIDEBACK
  12. MY PRECIOUS
  13. Red fraction -IO drive mix-

1. mirage

Beginning the album with its title track, mirage kind of mixes the synth style with her rock style that MELL has been getting more used to doing here recently in this era.  While there’s some ties to Mami’s “linkage” somewhere in there, I ended up enjoying this a bit even though I do feel it becomes a little sloppy with the electric guitars.  Still, it’s a little bizarre for an album opener (and title song for that matter) but I guess we had to start somewhere.

2. KILL

Being the first (well argubly) A-side of the era, KILL is definitely what I wanted to hear from MELL after listening to “MELLSCOPE” and the dark vibes this song carries was so awesome to listen to.  While it isn’t as dance-based as “kicks!”, it has the same feel and I enjoyed both so this on the album was great and MELL’s vocals are of course epic to listen to.  FREAKY SONG!

3. Princess bloom

Oh the beginning of Princess bloom sounds like those Icy Caverns from the original Donkey Kong Country, I liked that so much hahah.  There’s just a rather flow-breaking status about it since it broke the rockish flow that “mirage” and “KILL” were going for.  It’s really smooth while keeping the synths going on and letting MELL be as legato as she wants.  I never expected MELL to have a song like this, but it’s different and I might grow to like it.

4. Fascination

Why does the synth at the beginning remind me of something else eh?  Either way, I love when MELL sings under the trance style of I’ve Sound and Fascination definitely fills that gap smoothly.  It’s like “no vain”, but a bit lighter in mood and flow.  So far, MELL has shown her various colors of singing as well, but this is where I like her the most.  So basically, this was a great tune for her!

5. FIXER

I guess we quickly switch back to rockin’ MELL with FIXER and once again found myself liking the edgy side to MELL’s music a bit more.  Once again, I love the fact that she sings really strong and utilizes a lot more vibrato in the chorus.  It might come off as a little blah in the verses, but this is good otherwise.

6. Sabaku no Yuki

Wow, talk about diving into the I’ve Sound encyclopedia to pull this song out.  Already, you can tell MELL sounds rather younger than in the other songs of the album and be as it may, it’s also one of MELL’s old songs like “Utsukushiku Ikitai”.  That being said, it’s different, but it doesn’t feel so out of place as you might think.  It’s pretty synthy, but a great addition, even if it’s ancient stuff.

7. Proof

While “Sabaku no Yuki” still remains the odd song addition to the album, Proof is right up there as well.  I mean for one thing, it was the primary A-side of her second single “Proof/no vain” so it’s inclusion makes a bit more sense since it wasn’t on “MELLSCOPE”, but I still think it has no place on the album. 

8. Teleportation guy

I find it amazing that MELL is embracing her synth side again and once again was surprised this song was as upbeat as it was and yet kept a great trance-ish melody going on (especially the musical interludes of the song).  I do think some of the singing is rather off, but the music is what drew me in moreso and I can’t help but fall in love with it.

9. Love illusion

I’m surprised that the album is actually much trance-ish that I thought it would’ve been and it’s great we have a synth/rock fusion track like Love illusion since it shows how fluid and sweet it could be.  MELL’s vocals aren’t as tightknit as she usually controls it so I liked the lessened control.  Though on this album it kind of parallels Mami Kawada’s “in answer”, but just a tad bit.

10. Infection

One of the new songs that were known prior to the album being announced, Infection was used as an opening to the anime “HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD”.  For being the opening theme, I was surprised this actually turned out worse than I remembered it.  It calls for a chaotic arrangement mixed in with MELL’s uneven vocal style and it might be on purpose to give the song more of a wild sound, but this is like “Virgin’s high!” in the way that it’s sloppy arrangement just is too much for me to listen to.

11. RIDEBACK

Ahhhh, I was so disappointed that they had to include the “English” version of RIDEBACK.  There’s just something about this cut is so sloppily done about this.  I barely understand what she says unlike in “Red fraction” where I could tell most of the time what she says, I much prefer the Japanese version of RIDEBACK off the single more than this.

12. MY PRECIOUS

MY PRECIOUS actually stands out for me on this album since it’s like a ballad, but not really because of the whole cold and weird ideas it got.  I do love that MELL sounds beautiful in the chorus where it opens up and sounds majestic.  It’s something you don’t expect from I’ve, but I approve and I loved it.  The only thing that really bothered me was the near 8 minute length of the song so it basically did drag the song all over…oh well, it’s still a good song.

13. Red fraction -IO drive mix-

Ending the album is of course a remix of MELL’s debut single and oddly enough it was used in the same anime the original was tied-in from.  For me, it’s like why change an already good thing AGAIN!?  This remix sounds like it moved the sound around and fidgeted with the beats to make it seem remix-ish, but it sounds like there wasn’t anything really new given.  The vocals from MELL are a bit clearer though I’ll admit to that.  Different, but passable.

Tracks Recommended

  • Teleportation guy
  • Fascination
  • Sabaku no Yuki
  • KILL
  • MY PRECIOUS

Song of Avoidance

  • Infection

In some ways, MELL’s sophomore effort is towards a direction that the other members (minus Eiko) have seemingly turned into towards a more trance-ish style ala the early I’ve days.  MIRAGE does feel like the other recent albums of the other 2 girls (KOTOKO & Mami Kawada), but MELL has kept her rockish side as well and I feel like this was a good album, but there were some meh stuff and Infection was just yikes on a stick.  I still think “Kara no Tsubomi” would’ve been nice, but w/e

 

Mika Nakashima – STAR

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 12:47 am

Track Listing

  1. ALWAYS
  2. Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo
  3. BABY BABY BABY
  4. Over Load
  5. GAME
  6. SMILEY
  7. CANDY GIRL
  8. LONELY STAR
  9. No Answer
  10. SPIRAL
  11. Memory feat. DAISHI DANCE
  12. 16
  13. Nagareboshi
  14. SONG FOR A WISH

1. ALWAYS

You know after an era of tons of ballads, ALWAYS for me is probably not such a good start to the album.  I mean of course we get the smoky vocals from Mika and such, but that’s really it.  I mean the piano/strings combination is kind of bland and especially with “Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo” and “Nagareboshi” also being A-sides, this seemed poor and forgettable.

2. Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo

Which is kind of poor placing this song right after “ALWAYS”.  For me, the ballads of the era has been mostly misses for me and this one misses the mark simply because there just wasn’t anything for me to stick to.  I did like that it was a bit more brighter and had more things going on than the last song, but it still is kind of underwhelming.

3. BABY BABY BABY

At least one of the B-sides from “ALWAYS” made a good enough change to the previous two blah ballads by making this a bit jazzy and with some sitar added along as well.  While I couldn’t remember the song since the single review, I’m surprised this song didn’t take over til now and I ended up actually liking the song all over.  It’s one of the best vocally sung tracks off the album TBH.

4. Over Load

After we get out of the ballads, we get into our poppish songs and there’s a bunch of them starting with the A-side that began the era.  Just like “BABY BABY BABY”, I ended up forgetting how the song went in the first place, but I was happy the song brought the tempo up because I was slowly getting bored of the ballads.  I do think it does rather pale to her older poppy songs, but I’m happy she went back to this style since it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a “cute” song from Mika. 

5. GAME

*record scratch*…Wait, what is GAME doing on this album?  If you don’t know, the song was originally the only new track found of the “NO MORE RULES.” compilation album and that was before the release of “Over Load” as well.  Who’s complaining though?  I actually loved the song because it’s so upbeat and funky and just full of spunk and spice that it’s hard not to like it.  Mika’s vocals are very sexy and fit the atmosphere the song gave off.  Loved this!

6. SMILEY

I still can’t get over that laugh at the start since it so rings “Rocking Horse” from here.  Just like “GAME”, SMILEY has a pretty smoky atmosphere that’s filled with brass and funky bass lines.  Her vocals oddly sound more clear than before, but some of the high notes she hit are a bit weird sounding.  I don’t know why I bashed it on the “CANDY GIRL” review..but I think it was because the same instruments were used in both songs x.x

7. CANDY GIRL

Which is unfortunate because CANDY GIRL is right after.  I loved the brass opening for the song, but for me the song sort of failed because, it’s the first time where I think a Mika song is too repetitive and focused more on the backups than Mika herself which is stupid.  I do think it does have a nice groove to it, but I wished Mika had redone it to where she was singing more and less repetition.

8. LONELY STAR

Wow only two brand new songs on the album?  (“SONG FOR A WISH” was a digital release).  LONELY STAR I guess starts up the synth songs up and I was surprised at this one.  I mean I know she’s great under this style like “FOCUS” and DAISHI DANCE version of “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~”.  The beat though is heavier and definitely set in the dance/pop style and I enjoyed this quite a bit.  Maybe the verses are a bit off since Mika’s vocals are filtered, but this is still a sweet song nonetheless.

9. No Answer

Being the B-side from “Over Load”, No Answer follows “LONELY STAR” quite closely, but this is more lighter and focuses on the strings and piano than the beat that’s going on.  While since the single my enjoyment of the song has lessened a bit, it’s not bad, but it’s just feels rather plain since it’s between two stronger dance tracks.

10. SPIRAL

SPIRAL is definitely the sequel to “FOCUS” there is no doubt about it since both song kind of start up similarly except SPIRAL isn’t fused with jazz to make a good combination.  It has its own style and flow which is great, but this song has gotten on my nerves as of recent.  It’s the whole chorus where she butchers the ~spiral~ by hitting these pitchy high notes that bug me.  If it wasn’t because of that, I’d say it was the best damn song on the album.

11. Memory feat. DAISHI DANCE

Wow, they actually decided to include Memory to the album (if you don’t know this song was on “Nagareboshi” and was on DAISHI DANCE’s album “spectacle.”.  For me the inclusion is both good which meant she did include every non-remixed song of the era on the album, but on the bad side, this song is a tad too long for me.  It does share a lot with “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~” for sure, but being almost 7 minutes is a bit much for me.  I loved her vocals since they were so pretty in the arrangement and the harmonizations were just tight.  I liked this…but I would’ve enjoyed an album version of it at least.

12. 16

Since the last three songs are ballads, we’d have to get the other new song out of the way huh?  Of the ballads on the album, 16 seems to be the most basic of them, but also the calmest of the bunch which doesn’t force Mika to get soooo dramatic.  I think it’s probably the best ballad off the album and that’s coming from so many strings/piano based ones from the album.

13. Nagareboshi

Yeah, this is what I mean by forgettable.  At the time, Nagareboshi came off as really sweetly done and pretty, that is until the singles after it were basically carbon copies of one another and I lost interest in this song.  While it isn’t my favorite A-side of the era anymore, I think it’s the best of the piano/strings ballads.

14. SONG FOR A WISH

Closing the album off, is the only digital release of the era.  SONG FOR A WISH begins nicely enough with piano and cello before Mika starts singing.  I do like when she sings in a quieter tone since her voice sounds right for ballads.  Might be a little too blah for some people, but I think it did quite nicely closing up the album.

Tracks Recommended

  • GAME
  • LONELY STAR
  • BABY BABY BABY
  • 16
  • SPIRAL

Song of Avoidance

  • ALWAYS

Why is that Mika’s studio albums feel like friggin best-ofs.  I swear this has been her poorest era since her debut with such bad choices in A-sides.  Also we the huge amount of B-sides there was just no reason for lazying up and essentially leaving us with ONLY two new songs.  Either way though, those two songs were great LOL.  I don’t know, but “VOICE” runs circles round this album…and it’s a good idea that Mika is taking a hiatus for the time being.