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Ayumi Hamasaki- Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus

2010年 4月 9日

This is a HQ cover, but Ayus eyes are looking a liiiittle to wide for my likes. Also I’m not too much of a fan of the Brit theme. Nothing against Brits, but the image doesn’t match the style of the music presented in this album.

THE introduction sounds very profound right? xD Anyway this is one of Ayu’s most ominous intros to date. We open up with some dark synthetic elements that gradually creep up into a main theme. It’s not my favorite of Ayu’s intros, mostly because I don’t like the melody line. Also… this is the only song relatively “circus” themed…

Looks like Ayu’s going into forays with the power/symphonic metal genre with microphone. A baroque style melody played by organ begins this piece, but its delicateness is interrupted by a slew of metal chords. Pretty soon we’re in your run-of-the-mill Ayu pop-rock song. But what makes this one different is the soft, delicate parts that lead up to the powerful chorus. Admittedly I didn’t like this song when it was first leaked, but it has recently gained my approval. It is one of the best tracks on the album.

I first thought count down would be an interlude track because of the static synth in the beginning. But actually, this song is a whole different style altogether. A dark and ponderous piano melody follows us through the song. Also, all the mysterious synth in the background reminded me of the ethereal stuff of salyu or Hikki. Nevertheless, the song loses the mysterious affect during the chorus because of the rock albums. Do we have a repeat of GUILTY?

I’m kind of surprised that Ayu put Sunset 〜LOVE is ALL〜 before Sunrise… anyway I actually like this song (yes just shut up). It’s definitely a summer ballad, but it’s very uplifting and sweet. Still, kind of an unusual transition because the songs around it are so moody.

See here for my review of BALLAD.

Okay now we’re jumping into what I’d like to call “Avril Lavigne Territory.” A melancholy acoustic guitar and cello bring Last Links its melody. This is definitely another rock track, but not the “Rule” kind. Actually this song reminds me of some of her older works like: (Miss)Understood, Memorial Address, etc. It’s a good song, but not necessarily different from anything we’ve heard yet.

Next we have montage, the appropriately titled interlude. Okay… montage is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard Ayu do. It starts with a dark synth, but explodes into this melody lead by an organ. This whole thing is like a piece of Baroque musical literature (except for it sounds a little more modern/romantic at the end). We have strings, organ, and harpsichord. Just… very different. This interlude would have been better placed at the beginning of the album to prelude microphone.

Don’t Look Back is one of the most innovative tracks on the album. The beginning is sexy as hell, with the Middle Eastern instruments and melody. I was kind of disappointed that the influence didn’t remain as strong throughout the chorus. During the verses there was this cool whispering voice that outlined Ayu’s vocals. My favorite part was the instrumental bridge in the middle song. It was so different from anything else on the album.

Jump!, the second interlude, brings us back to our NEXT LEVEL roots. It’s littered with synth and Ayu sustaining various notes. Also there are a number of fragments during the song wherein the background vocals repeat “jump!” over and over. This interlude was a bit of a hot mess, not going to lie.

Lady Dynamite was one of the few tracks I decided not to listen to until the album was leaked. At least Jump! was an appropriately placed interlude. Lady Dynamite follows much of the pop-rock model we’re used to seeing in Ayu’s music. Although not necessarily innovative, Lady Dynamite is one sexy and empowering song.

Sexy little things begins with a highly futuristic synth sound. But what was cool about this song is that this synth was transformed into creating a jazzy melody. The chorus was my favorite part of the song, because we haven’t really heard Ayu done this kind of sexy before. This is one of the best tracks off of the album IMO (even if it is a little weird ;]).

Yes I loved Sunrise 〜LOVE is ALL〜 too. This is the upbeat version of Sunset, which was placed earlier in the album. This song is one of Ayu’s famed summer songs, and it incorporates background vocals, which charge the chorus.

The third ballad, meaning of Love is next. Fortunately, Ayu rarely messes up a ballad. Meaning of Love is a little traditional in terms of instrumentals and melody, but it is still beautiful to listen to. Everything in this song is carefully placed and uplifting. My only concern with it is it precedes another ballad, You were…

You were… is another ballad that was released this past December. My problem is that, although pretty, contains many of the same ballad elements that meaning of Love has. Now You were… is easily more wintery, but its beauty is undermined by the grandiose ballad before it. I reviewed You were… with BALLAD.

Lastly is the album version of RED LINE 〜for TA〜. I’m still confused as to why she chose to end the album with this song… BALLAD, the most grandiose and powerful song on the album should have been placed here. Honestly there aren’t many differences between this version and the single version. The only main difference is that it’s much longer, and the chorus and guitar solos are extended until Ayu’s a capella section at the end. Couldn’t we just have this version and screw the single version?

Overall: I’m not really sure what to think right now. This album is all over the place in so many different ways. There isn’t a “bad” song on the album, but I think what I’m missing is the cohesiveness that’s present in Ayu’s other works (example… montage and microphone). Lots of rock on this album (hence the title… but where the hell was the circus? Oh well, that theme’s overdone anyway).

Best tracks:

  • BALLAD
  • Don’t Look Back
  • meaning of Love
  • Sexy little things
  • microphone
  • count down?

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

01. THE introduction
02. Microphone
03. count down
04. Sunset 〜LOVE is ALL〜
05. BALLAD
06. Last Links
07. montage
08. Don’t look back
09. 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]

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