Kurayami Monogatari

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Ai Otsuka – LOVE HONEY April 21, 2017

Filed under: Ai Otsuka — solarblade @ 6:29 am

lovehoney

Track Listing

  1. HONEY
  2. Watashi
  3. QueeN
  4. TOKYO Sanpo
  5. Sakura Harahara
  6. HEART BREAK
  7. Monochrome
  8. make up
  9. FrogFlag
  10. HEY!BEAR
  11. Starting Pistol
  12. Hibi, Ikite Ireba

1. HONEY

Opening the album, we have the title track for the album and it starts lightly with Ai under a nice mellow tone.  Though I was mesmerized after the introductory lines as the tune turns into a smoother low-jazzy arrangement with some light sitar runs throughout.  If anything the song reminds me of some of her earlier works that took the listener to wondrous and flowing space.  It is the album’s shortest track though making above 3 minutes, but I felt that it was good enough so it didn’t feel like the track was going to start dragging.  Pretty nice for the opening track.

2. Watashi

As the lone A-side released, Watashi comes next and just having listen to it a couple weeks ago has still left a decent appreciation about it.  It still carries that dreamscape-y vibes that “HONEY” kicked the album off with, but it adds on a nice and light dance beat to carry the song in a happier motif.  Like I said on the review, it’s not her most extravagant song in her discography but it does no harm overall and feels right coming after the previous track.

3. QueeN

Back to new tracks, QueeN happens to focus more on the synth/dance elements that “Watashi” had started to move towards in flow on the album.  Listening to it, it does feel like a track that would’ve easily fit on her last album, “LOVE TRiCKY” just from the beat and overall EDM style.  Ai-chin also sounds pretty good here and she does some interesting things in general tone too!  Overall, it’s nice and a good track to just lose yourself to, or a great background song at a club…it kind of works both ways.

4. TOKYO Sanpo

I almost wanted to say just from the intro that TOKYO Sanpo was going to be going in an Ondo route, but it doesn’t and reverts back to more EDM.  I’m not quite sure what to think of this song entirely.  It feels like “QueeN” but a little more complex and cuter overall.  It’s not bad though but for some reason it’s making me realize how much I miss the fact that “Joshi Shelter” isn’t anywhere on this album.

5. Sakura Harahara

That bitterness is also there because Sakura Harahara made it (the other B-side from “Watashi”).  Though I can’t be too mad because this was quite amazing in its own right as well.  This mid-tempo number is quite groovy and the chilled vibes I get are just wonderful, on top of the instrumentation/arrangement.  It’s still a nice song to listen to even after the single release!

6. HEART BREAK

We finally slow down enough for a ballad!  At least I felt like it did initially from the opening bars of HEART BREAK, but it does gradually build up to more of a mid-tempo ballad but with acoustic guitars to fill out the stereo with.  Now with this one, it feels like a leftover track from “LOVE FANTASTIC” because of the guitar-heavy arrangement.  That said, a lot of those album tracks from that album kind of flew over my head and I’m getting the same feeling here…

7. Monochrome

At least we get into an actual ballad with Monochrome which is led by very light guitar and a jazzy piano.  It’s hard to place this song where it lies amongst her numerous other ballads, but I do really like the arrangement of the tune and the buildup with strings and light synths are fitting and not so much intruding the feeling of the track.  Sounds like a wintry song for some reasons, but I found myself by lulled by it.  A lot more interesting than “HEART BREAK” that’s for sure.

8. make up

After the break, we jump right back into upbeat songs with make up and moving from a winter-esque ballad to a darker EDM type of track, make up is kind of a surprising twist and in a way kind of cool!  There are some psychedelic undertones to the track, but it also gives me Halloween vibes too but that may be from the chords and the synths lower register.  Ai-chin is also sounding more whispy and mysterious too…quite the oddball track, but I dug it a LOT!

9. FrogFlag

Hey, there’s a strange titled track here!  I guess if anything, her jazz songs seem to be getting the more oddball titles (“Toilet Paper Blues” & “Shachihata” anyone??).  Either way, her jazz songs also seem to showcare Ai’s vocals in a MUCH stronger light and like those songs before, Ai hits it out of the part with FrogFlag and it just catches my attention so quickly at how she held back this awesome voice!  Awesome song!

10. HEY!BEAR

Another oddball title for a song?  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this song because the jazz song was already taken.  HEY!BEAR is more towards the cuter side of pop mixed in with a dance beat!  I do like the funky guitar tones that back the whole thing and Ai sounds adorable (even though coming after “FrogFlag”, it’s a bit of a surprise at how different her tone is between the two).  Catchy song, but I feel like it could’ve been somewhere around “TOKYO Sanpo”.

11. Starting Pistol

The light tapping that opens up Starting Pistol caught my attention and then hearing acoustic guitar and Ai repeating the title was goofy, but luckily it doesn’t last too long.  The groove is very Samba-esque (not the carnivale kind, at least).  The track might be less energetic than “HEY!BEAR” but its got a nice thing going for itself.  The only thing that left me confused was the hip-hop breakdown in the bridge (she didn’t even sing during it either…).  Otherwise, this song is a light hip rolling song and I kind of liked that about it.

12. Hibi, Ikite Ireba

Closing out the album is oddly enough a digital single that was released last July so it stands that it was the first song to represent the album lol.  As a song itself it feels like the parallel opposite to “FrogFlag” by being a big band ballad.  Right from the start, I LOVE the muted horns melody before adding the rest into the track.  Ai’s voice is light and cute, but for some reason the mixture together gives me Seseme Street vibes and I’m not sure if I was that into that.  Still, it’s a nice rainy day song to just relax with a hot chocolate with.

Tracks Recommended

  • FrogFlag
  • make up
  • Sakura Harahara
  • QueeN
  • Monochrome

Song of Avoidance

  • HEART BREAK

As this is Ai-chin’s 8th album, LOVE HONEY is actually quite decent all-around.  It feels like she kind of has a mix of stuff from her last two albums brought here and I kind of dug it and it felt cohesive too.  The only song that I wasn’t really into is HEART BREAK but that’s the only song that felt like it didn’t really add anything to the album.  Otherwise, I was pretty content with this one 😀

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