When Pop Hits The Fan
What’s On Your Mind ft. XBS
The opening for this album is like no other. The first real song immediately drags you kicking and screaming onto the dance floor. Huge punches of bass and a minor synth progression pull you into a swaggering, disorienting backtrack that doesn’t let up as it bounces from the left to the right and then behind. The chorus is great with a memorable line and great lyrics. “Baby tell me what’s on your mind, if you wanna get down with me…”. I’m not a huge fan of Japanese rap, but XBS sounds rough and ready. His voice grinds perfectly with the feel of the track and the entire time you feel your head sway to the beat. Namie, vocally, does some of her best ad. lib.-ing of her career. Also, in the end you really hear a very distorted guitar-like synth and it’s just as hot as the spinning beat. In short: amazing dance song.
Good Life ft. FIRSTKLAS
A thumping, bumping, bouncing beat introduces to a relaxed, up-beat hip-pop number. Some harmonizing programming to Namie’s vocals, also heavily harmonized. The verses and chorus all carry a similar theme and the vocals are very calm. Other than the rapping, which there isn’t much to comment on, this song is very redundant, but not annoying. The part at the end is cool where FIRSTKLAS asked Namie something and she laughs… it’s kawaii!
Baby Be Mine
Another bouncing, bumping beat provides the backdrop for this more R&B number. I absolutely love this song though. It borders on hip-pop more and sounds like it would have been at home on Queen of Hip-Pop. The melody is very memorable and the harmonies are very pretty. There’s that familiar water drop noise, like in ‘No pt. 2′. It’s basically just fun and cute.
We Got Time
A ticking sound and a circulating, tickling synthetic tap provide background for a pretty number with another well harmonized melody and chorus. The bridge slows it down utterly and we find a more slow number and then someone says: “Break it down…” and we find ourselves back in the chorus. Namie’s runs well after this. Then we hear a very sweet, “hoh hoh hoh, hoh hoh, hoh…”
An airplane flies over and then we get handed an attractive, sweet ticking, booming track. Another great track, slightly similar to ‘Baby Be Mine’. This track is slightly better than that song, though. The melody is so amazing. It’s the catchiest one of the album. She actually performed this song live on her Namie Amuro Best Tour “Live Style 2006″.
A heavy bass number with plenty of synth bleeps and a whispering Namie sounds off towards the dancier, middle section of this album. Another memorable track, ‘Damn Fight’ is a cool, fierce song with a good of attitude. It like a dated version of ‘It’s all about you’.
Not This Time
A modern twist on this slightly throwback album, ‘Not This Time’ sounds very good indeed. Quick, catching verses, with lots of action words like ‘crash’ and ‘bang’. The verses and choruses tend to meld together. The background is fast, similar to what ‘the SPEED STAR’ would sound like. A bit of Middle Eastern flavor is incorporated as well.
What If ft. VERBAL (m-flo)
Going up and down a scale is the most enduring quality of this song. VERBAL is one of my favorite Japanese rappers, and he does a great job on this track. Namie does well of course. The backtrack actually makes use of Namie and has her do a little arpeggio used in a loop with the rest of the synth and bass. It’s a really cool song.
Uh Uh… ft. A.I.
Talk about hot! This is the best song on the album. A.I. does one of her best rapping features and Namie does what she does best. The music video was pure amazingness. A blaring synthetic backing and a huge, booming bass line carry the astounding rhythm section and a really catchy melody and great lyrics carry this song out on top.
Sing My Life ft. Dabo
This R&B track reeks with style. A charming, Hispanic-flavored ambience fits nice with the melody. This song is high-end filler. And I use the term filler losely because there really isn’t any on the album. It’s just not as memorable as the other songs.
And speaking of memorability, this song is memorable for all the wrong reasons. This was my original review of this song, and I won’t put my ears through it again to re-review it. “Now, I love Namie. She is my favorite of all time and I love everything she’s ever done, but this song… let’s just say that I actually haven’t been able to get all the way through it until last night. Her vocals are barely in key and the faux-funk is horrid. Her voice does not suit heavy R&B… her runs are a mess… Luckily, she has improved ten-fold since this album. But in all honesty, this album was really good except for this song… so… but… she did FUNKY TOWN very well… her runs were hott!” About the best part of this song is the funk beat, which has actually grown on me… so scrap that part. :D
Signs of Life
What a delightfully delicate slow jam. As much balladry as you are gonna get on this album, ‘Signs of Life’ brings out hip-hop’s softer side. It’s completely in English. You can find my original review here.
Just Say So ft. VERBAL (m-flo)
We end the album with yet another bouncing beat and VERBAL. The melody is very good with plenty of endearing qualities. By this time, ‘Just Say So’ will not strike you as a stand out track. Listened to by itself, it is a great number.
Suite Chic, a moniker for Namie Amuro, was a way for her to switch from dance pop, to R&B. A change, I thought, was a little lax. The project itself did well, and all of the tracks on this album are adventurous, but it’s Namie who can’t quite pull it off. And, God do I love Namie, but her voice isn’t exactly suited for R&B. She doesn’t sound bad, it just misses all of the soul you expect from this type of music. And that is only compared to American R&B artists. Namie, judged by her own strengths, is one of the best. Probably third to A.I., who has a luxurious singing voice, and SOULHEAD. Namie has just not been brought up with the sounds and so has a hard time getting the subtleties of the genre.
As for the all the little instrumental interludes, I decided to not review them as they almost all sound basically the same and are hard to describe because of their similarities. That is one thing that I wish I could do is put samples of every song with it’s review. You can talk about music all you want, but in the end, you just have to hear it. And that is true about this entire album. It stays well within the hip-hop, R&B/Soul genre and so it was hard to review. Individually, this songs are all great (with the exception of ‘Ain’t Yours’) and it makes it very difficult to find a new word or phrase for each one.
Overall, this album was amazing: great production and vocals throughout. I love the hip-pop style that came out of this experiment, and so, because of that, it gets a good grade.