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» » » [Album Review] ayumi hamasaki - LOVE again

"Buy rabu agen for watashi no CLEAVAGE"
It being the last studio album she actively promoted, the first studio album she conceptualised and written in its entirety with cohesion, and even naming two concerts after it, you can already tell ayumi hotmessaki sure loves her Love songs. 1 studio album later, she farts out another one called LOVE again. It's either meant to be an obvious second part album to Love songs, or an attempt to pay homage to her second studio album, LOVEppears. I personally think she's just lazy and conveniently decided combine her previous 2 "mini-albums".

It's funny how this studio album comes right after the trainwreck that was Party Queen. Can't say much shit about it though, since its title track was what gave me inspiration for this heck of a blog's title, but you can tell the stark difference between the concept, album arts and all. From the experimental, no-singles, shit-selling and riot-causing Parlee Kwee, Ayu listens to y'all, guys, and has as a result recoiled back into a more safe, even-more-shit-selling, throwback sound that is liberally smeared all over LOVE again.

The entire album essentially touches on the three aspects of a relationship - falling in love, the break-up, and the eventual moving on. But before going deep into that, the "most experimental" track (that's how safe the entire album is) Wake me up starts up the album on a hard electropop roll that talks about how "anyone can enter, yet nobody can enter" her sandcastle. While I'd like to think she's talking about her vagina, she's probably in a way telling people that while this album may be on a personal level, the truth is, we will never know the truth behind her shit. Homegirl tells it like it is.

Sadly the album then scales down into ayumi hotmessaki's usual pop affair with your piano / pop ballads, one solitary rock song, and the occasional standout ones that don't really fit the usual mould yet still sound distinctively Ayu. Song 4 u and Missing follows and you can read on what I think about those on my LOVE review.

While Song 4 u and Missing mostly talk about vulnerability and yearning, SAKURA and Melody on the other hand are more optimistic numbers that talk about moving together as a couple and other cheesy shit related to falling in love. While SAKURA flows even slower than Utada Hikaru moves her lazy ass, the tune does linger in your head in an almost annoying way. Just the other day I was singing the chorus really loudly at home, thinking nobody was home until I heard my sister shut her door really loudly. Oopsie whoopsie. Melody also proved to be a grower in the end. I did like it when it first came out, but now I love it.

"Buy rabu agen so I can afford a new bolster"
Moving on to the edgier part of the album, which sadly, only spans over two songs, Bye-bye darling started off great - the beginning grabbed my attention, I really liked the little playing of effects to her vocals in the second verse but that's about it. The arrangement comes off rather repetitive and monotonous after a while, and I really hate how the chorus doesn't really go anywhere. It's a pity just like sending mail on Love songs because they are thwarted by their choruses in reaching their full potential. It's passable, but so much could've been done to make this song better. snowy kiss, on the other hand, is one of the best songs on this album. After giving again (the mini-album, not a shitty grammatical error) the test of time, it has now won me over even more to be the best song from that mini-album, overtaking Wake me up. I especially love the build-up to the sudden burst of instrumental goodness after the second verse which gave me a full-fledged orgasm.

With all of Ayu's studio albums there is always that one song that stands out from the rest in a certain peculiar way, and petal is that song on LOVE again. It gives off a rather haunting vibe to it - the tune at the beginning is attention-catching yet creepy at the same time. Reminds me of the ringtone in the film "One Missed Call". I like the lyrics to this song a lot because the song essentially revolves around the action of "he loves me, he loves me not" that people usually do when plucking flower petals. Doesn't do much for me musically, unfortunately. Ayu also reveals her keen interest in flower-watering with the line, "Carefully giving it some water... let's do that!"

Unfortunately, the final part of the album recedes into a snoozefest. untitled for her... story 2 is the tearjerker of the album where she revisits her feelings towards her friend who committed suicide 5 years ago. A continuation of untitled ~for her~ on GUILTY, she uses some of the lyrics again from the first part which shows that her feelings still remain unchanged, and that her only wish even today is to see her just once more. I managed to type this with such neutrality, I question my humanity sometimes. I like the instrumental climax with the drums and shit, but disappointed that it lasted only for like, 2 seconds. They should've continued with that throughout the last chorus, but that's just me. May be too dramatic for a personal song like this. What makes this song standout for me is how her vocals sounded really raw and vulnerable, which pretty much shows how much she loves that friend. Gloria is your usual pop-rock midtempo ballad that's decent. It's nice, but not really memorable. And Ivy, well, is Ivy.

"Maro-kun, aitakute! I'm vulnerably lying down here!"
The album of course ends off with You & Me, the best song recorded ever!!! Whatever. I guess the only good of its tracklist placing is that you can easily skip the album, and that it can unpleasantly wake you up (may or may not be a pun intended) after you've fallen asleep. At the very least, lyrically, it does make sense since after all the heartbreaks and shit, she ends up still reminiscing about that one summer where gurl had a good tiiiiiime and probably lots of seeeeeexxxx ohhh flilay niiiiteeeee

The album also gets additional points for having only 2 interludes! Holy mother of Krishna! task'n'bass remains meh, but glasses is da bomb. I like it because it personally reminds me of those computer games that I used to play where the background music would always sound something similar to that. Nostalgicccccccc. But people asking for an entire full song made out of that are just pushing it.

As a whole, while I appreciate this album for its cohesiveness and throwback sound, I can't help but yearn for the more edgy side of ayumi hotmessaki. The entire flow of the album is just so slooooooow. That said, I'm sure BENI fans will love this. I might even go on to say I liked the middle section of Party Queen (call - Tell me why) better than the album tracks here (oh no I didn't!). It's a pity that songs like Bye-bye darling fall flatly beside songs like, say, kiss o' kill, and how the album just sort of fizzles out towards the end after starting out so strongly.

I have to praise this album for having no shit tracks at all, unlike Love songs which had Thank U which I will say no thanks to anytime of the day. The album tracks also really pale in comparison to the tracks that were previously released, which ends up making them feel like fillers, and makes me question if bitch even tries sometimes. Plus, this concept has already been done on Love songs - everyone loved it, but doing another one, especially when the first only came out 2 years ago, also partly contributes to its lack of punch.

Listen to previews here.

6/10

Album highlights: Wake me up, Song 4 u, Missing, Melody, Bye-bye darling, snowy kiss, glasses, untitled for her... story 2, Ivy

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