GUILTY: glitter / fated, talkin’ 2 myself, Together When…

GUILTY cover

浜崎あゆみ (Hamasaki Ayumi)
GUILTY
January 1, 2008
Total Tracks: 14
Oricon Peak: #2
Sales as of January 12: 432,113 (combined sales of two weeks*)
United World Chart Peak: #3
Label: Avex Trax
Producer: Masato “Max” Matsuura
Lyricist: Ayumi Hamasaki

~~~

Mirror
1:56
Music & Arrangement: Yuta Nakano

A stirring electronic start up pulls us into a martian field of drums, violins, and a trickling piano. Ayumi’s voice comes in with fast lyrical percision for a short verse and then into a cresendo which takes us into a jammin’ guitar-driven chorus. It’s a very exciting opening, considering I don’t like Ayumi Hamasaki, and it calms down into deep boom and then a soft bridge that gives us little warning of the next track…

(don’t) Leave me alone
Music: Tetsuya Yukumi / Arrangement: HAL 
4:15

Almost unrecognizable distorted guitar rams ahead into a synth opener for a rock song. It’s a little reminiscent of some of her earlier work but it’s very exciting. The transitions are very heavy with booming synth and my favorite part about this song is the evanescent but loud synth in the background which carries the melody line in the instrumentation. The melody, I’ve heard it before from her, can’t put my finger on it, but it’s familiar. The a cappella at the end is really cool, also.

~~~

talkin' 2 myself cover

talkin’ 2 myself
4:53
Oricon Peak: #1
Total Sales: 110,702
Year-End Chart: #79
RIAJ: Gold
Music & Arrangement: Yuta Nakano

And I suddenly remember where I had heard the melody from ‘(don’t) Leave me alone’ before… this song! That song and this one have certain similarities, I’m not saying that they are the same song per say. Both have heavily distorted guitar, synth, and a deep rock feeling. ‘talkin’ 2 myself’ has violins in it though, which are featured greatly throughout in sweeping archs. I rather like the edge that this single has and I very much think it fits her voice better than pop… just sayin’…

B-side of talkin’ to myself
decision
4:21
Music & Arrangement: Yuta Nakano

A beautiful piano and a sweeping violin bring us softly into yet another rock number. This has more glitz that the previous numbers. More crashing cymbals, less-distorted electric guitar and a softer versal accompaniment give this song the title of ‘Great B-Side’! To me, a lot of these melodies sound utterly similar. I mean they aren’t, but… they are at the same time…

~~~

GUILTY
4:32
Music: Tetsuya Yukumi / Arrangement: CMJK

The titular track of this album has a more electronic sound. Big bells; the electric guitars are getting less distorted by the second; and a creepy, sad sound add this song to a list of music I wouldn’t listen to if I were scared to begin with. A general build up brings us to the chorus, with a nice chorus, nothing spectacular, but good. There seems to be some sort of talking going on in the background, but I couldn’t tell you what they were saying. This song seems to drag a little bit. A good point? I think her voice sounds really cool on this track.

~~~

glitter cover

glitter / fated
Oricon Peak: #1
Total Sales: 166,204
Year-End Chart: #39
RIAJ: Gold

glitter
4:52
Music: Kazuhiro Hara / Arrangement: HAL

So, I’m gonna’ switch the order to preserve the singles… this is the only song out of order so I hope you’ll forgive me.
Alright, ‘glitter’ is an up-beat, synth and violin number with an up-beat message and a high melody and is basically the perfect picture of a jump song. The chorus is catchy and fun and I really enjoy the background music. This is one of the only songs by Ayu that I will actually listen to, to listen to, because I usually don’t like her (the other one is ‘Startin’). The bridge consists of a heavier beat, some cool synth loops and tricks and the usual stop/start grinding of a dance break.

fated
5:36
Music: Shintaro Hagiwara, Akihisa Matsuura / Arrangement: CMJK

A heavy yet beautiful electric guitar leads us into some stunning piano-laden background. Violins, a subtle beat and a soaring melody and you have yourself a great ballad. The chorus is a bit anticlimatic because it starts off so loud and high and then goes down but it ends on a high note which saves it from being boring. The bridge is slightly less amazing and leads immediately into another chorus. Overall, I’ve heard better ballads from Ayu, but this one is fine.

~~~

Together When... cover

Together When…
5:12
Digital Single
iTunes Japan: #1
Total Downloads: 1,000,000+
RIAJ: Platinum

Oh, this song is so gorgeous. Ayu’s characteristic voice fits amazingly well with the soft piano. A ticking, grand beat comes in and swells into a stunning chorus with guitars and violins. Even though I do not understand her, I feel her emotion and that overwhelming emotion, for me at least, is sadness and regret. This is a must-listen ballad. Oh, and don’t let the random guitar parts scare you.

~~~

Marionette -prelude-
1:12
Music & Arrangement: Yuta Nakano

Let me start of by saying that I’ve seen one more horror movie than I should have and so I find this song creepy. It’s very short and features a music box sound and some winding. It’s useful for transitioning from the power ballad that was ‘Together When…’, otherwise it’s boring.

Marionette
4:34
Music: Kazuhiro Hara / Arrangement: HAL

This is power pop at it’s best. Deep bass, distorted guitar, violins, drums, cymbals, synth: all the ingredients to an Ayu song, at least on this album. The guitar solo-ing is very cool in this song. The backing is grand and sweeping and the entire song screams minor…

The Judgement Day
1:39
Music & Arrangement: CMJK

Um… so… this little section here kind of creeped me out… it’s a deathly Church-esque interlude with horrible deep drums, some high synth, a prominant organ, and Ayu singing lalala… but then suddenly and very unexpectedly we are thrown into a techno beat which keeps the dark atmosphere going for like three seconds and then its happy all of a sudden which transitions very, very well into ‘glitter’…

~~~

MY ALL
5:25
Music: Tetsuya Yukumi / Arrangement: HAL

And here we go into a defiantly major guitar solo and a only-slightly-less-happy-then-‘glitter’ song. I heard something similar to ‘Dearest’ in a little transition in the song and it was like a breath of fresh air in this album. This is the music I associate with Ayumi and it’s nice to hear something familiar on this punk’d out album.

reBiRTH
1:38
Music & Arrangement: HAL

This song is like a falling up into heaven. It’s stunningly ethereal and nice in the cooling trend that is the end of this album.

untitled ~for her~
5:32
Music: Kunio Tago / Arrangement: Shingo Kobayashi

This song a slow roll and could have been a country ballad is recorded by someone else. Arching violins, driving guitar and bass, and a good helping of a drum kit make this song an up-beat finish for an exciting album. ONe drawback is that there seems to be more emotion in the music than in her voice… she’s almost drowned in it all.

~~~

Overall, this album is what I half-expected from Ayumi. The first part is hard rock (or as hard rock as JPop is allowed to get) and the second part is calm, more-like-normal. Her voice tends to grate on me at times, her vibrato (the bouncing in her voice) goes way over the lines sometimes, but overall, even despite her hearing loss, she has released another great album. I’m no die-hard fan, but I gave this album a A- because it deserved it, most of the tracks were original and unexpected, especially all those rock numbers. Most importantly, who’ll they get to play the guitar during the tour?

A-

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~ by vinyabarion on January 17, 2008.

5 Responses to “GUILTY: glitter / fated, talkin’ 2 myself, Together When…”

  1. Theres always been a guitarist during her concerts. His name is Yo-chan. He’s been there ever since she began.

  2. Really? That’s a cool bit of trivia… I can only suppose that he rocks! :D

  3. […] version of ‘Mirror’, the opening track from Hamasaki’s ninth study album, GUILTY. You can see there for a more complete review of it’s instrumental qualities. I, personally, […]

  4. […] He’s worked with many of JPop most prestigous names including Ayumi Hamasaki [Startin’, glitter], Koda Kumi [Chase, real Emotion], Yuna Ito [I’m Here], and especially BoA, penning her huge hits […]

  5. […] began to turn from hatred and digust to mild interest with the release of the albums Secret and GUILTY. Finally, my like for her reached an all time high at the release of Mirrorcle World which made my […]

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