Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION

June 25, 2008 at 11:37 pm Leave a comment

1. Fight The Blues
3. Beautiful World
4. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-
5. Stay Gold
6. Kiss & Cry
7. Gentle Beast Interlude
8. Celebrate
9. Prisoner Of Love
10. Take 5
11. Boku wa Kuma
12. Nijiiro Bus
13. Flavor Of Life (Bonus Track)

HEART STATION is Utada Hikaru’s seventh album. It was released on March 19, 2008 and, of course, became a hit. HEART STATION has passed the 1 million copies mark, something very rare in today’s music industry.

I’ve always liked Utada Hikaru. She was a good artist with some songs that I really enjoyed, but I never considered her to be one of my favorites. Lately, I have to admit this has been changing. Her newer synth and more experimental style has really appealed to me, and while her older albums are definitely very good, I just love her ULTRA BLUE and HEART STATION albums. Maybe I’ll even eventually get around reviewing her older albums (I would really like to! But there is only so much free time I have, even in the summer time).

Fight The Blues is a really excellent starting track. The arrangement is well done with nice little fills at the end of each line. One thing I like about this track are the ‘ah’s backing her up during the pre-chorus, and the actual chorus itself is pretty catchy as well.

The namesake, HEART STATION, has a great catchy chorus. It’s has nice rhythm and feels both upbeat and a bit sad at the same time. There’s also a short talking part in the background, which was also nicely done and is interesting without being overpowering. I also really like the intro and outro.

Beautiful World has become one of my favorites in a short time. The gorgeous piano lines with the synth make for a great backdrop against Hikki’s dream-like vocals. Don’t even get me started on the how much I love the chorus. Simple flowing lines occasionally accented with a few high notes are like candy to me (and I love my candy (and ice cream)).

Next is the ballad version of Flavor of Life. I really like the original version of Flavor of Life (also included as the bonus track) with all the ethereal synth, but the ballad version is not bad. The more traditional instrument usage is still nicely done, especially the strings. The contrast with the high and low notes in the chorus is nicely done, and that doesn’t change from one version to the other. And the low vocals in the verses are really good too.

The first time I heard Stay Gold, I wasn’t impressed to say the least, but now I really love it. The simple piano lines are just love and with the light percussion…man. The simplicity in Stay Gold’s arrangement is really its strength. Because the accompaniment is so light, it puts the focus solely on the vocals and melodies, both of which are very strong. Especially the parts where Hikki sings the melodies of “daisuki dakara” and “good luck.”

Kiss and Cry is a really unique piece starting with some big band brass and then later sampling a previous song of hers “Hotel Lobby” from her Exodus album. It’s a really interesting combination and nicely done of her part. The chorus is just great, especially the “kiss and cry” line. Not to mention the closing line.

The Gentle Beast interlude is so well done and just flows seamlessly right into Celebrate. The first time I listened to it, I didn’t even realize the end of the interlude and start of Celebrate had come. Of course, now that I am more familiar with the album, I know that when the thumping beats start, Celebrate has begun. The verses have a nice lounge-y feel, while the pre-chorus progresses to a bit of a club feel and then finally the chorus comes in with a nice balance between the two.

The first time I listened to Prisoner of Love, I didn’t particularly like it. I kept reading about how much people liked it and while I thought it a good song, it wasn’t really the best new track. Although, I still don’t know if I consider it to be the best new track, I really like this song now. The arrangement and beats are so great and the melodies are so good and catchy and just amazing. I love the amount of emotion put into this track, and the connection to Last Friends helps too. And as another plus, the phrase “prisoner of love” doesn’t even sound corny at all!

Take 5 is probably the most interesting of the new tracks. Heavier on the synth and with lyrics that speak metaphorically of death, Take 5 is a bit more of a mature track. The ethereal vocals are a nice touch with the lines about the sky.

Following the mature sound and heart of that is Boku wa Kuma, a children’s song. It’s a simple little song with cute lyrics and soothing arrangement.

Nijiiro Bus is the faux ending of the album (because of the original version of Flavor of Life). It’s a semi-upbeat synth piece with really catchy rhythms and plenty of melody repetition. While the track certainly has a lot of repetition, it’s still a really nicely done piece and leaves you with a pleasant feeling.

Buy this album: CD only


Entry filed under: Japanese Albums. Tags: , .

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