Prior to listening to Kato Miserableface's music I only knew three things about her: she's been around since forever, she frequently makes very questionable cover choices and looks miserable all the damn time. With her looking like that on the HEAVEN album covers, knowing that I'm definitely going to hell actually puts me at ease.

LOVELAND piqued my interest because I was pretty impressed when I stumbled upon one of the songs (UNIQUE), and went on to listen to the album previews which seemed not bad. Plus, there's something mysteriously alluring about the cover. Probably the pasta. I love me some pasta. Case in point for Kato Miserableface's miserable face? She still looks miserable even when she's eating PASTA.

There's been mixed reviews about LOVELAND because I also read that she tends to be a one-trick pony (as with like, 80% of J-R&B artists) and probably has a thousand songs in her catalogue that sound exactly like the ones on LOVELAND already but hey ho hey ho, thank goodness for dem fresh ears right here!

Miliyah starts off being a sad, desperate whiny-ass ho in Lonely Hearts (I WANT YOU TO STAY OH BABY LOVE ME LOVE LOVE ME...), which made the album begin on a really sad note. This is a love land I do not want to be in, but this R&B track is one of my favourites because it's so damn depressing ("It's because you were there that I went on living" - Kato gotta chill), and the rhythm doesn't make the song unnecessarily draggy or boring with its gradual build-ups and stuff.

Lonely Hearts, in this aspect, overshadows the next two similar ballads - Shape of love is the more uptempo, dramatic sister of Lonely Hearts with a questionable French-speaking man and random rapping dude. Shape of love projects a stronger, bolder sound in contrast to an otherwise vulnerable-sounding Lonely Hearts, but fails to impress with a chorus that falls flat to its verses. Love/Affection plays more with a structure that builds up using the beats, which is something I always love. Kato reverts back to her vulnerable self, longing for this person who is supposedly "gentler than anyone" and "transient more than anything", but might tire the listener since, you know, it's the third ballad in a row.

Things finally switch up with UNIQUE, which takes a ballady melody and imposes it over a drum-heavy beat which makes it, well, unique in that sense. Somehow, I'm also really digging the piano accents in the arrangement too. It's one of the standout tracks on this album given its nature, and is something I'd love for Miliyah to do more. It's a breath of fresh air to see her sounding like a confident woman ("diamond in the rough / now I'm flying first class") than one who's always desperately clamouring for love. I never even knew she was capable of belting out notes like that! This would've actually made a stronger opener for the album.

We're presented with another two heavy ballads in what would seem like the "second segment" of LOVELAND. Kamisama overall carries an emotionally heavy atmosphere throughout, which contrasts with a lighter, airier one in The One, with the former one using a lot of bass in the arrangement. The One is the better track for me because it has a strong arrangement and chorus. Plus she sounds kinda whiny in Kamisama lol

"Daaamn gurl this coat be cozy as hell???" - Kato
Miserableface in her deadpan, miserable face.
The next upbeat segue to the album, EMOTION, immediately hooked me in with the electronic loop at the beginning which got my pussy straight-up poppin'. I'm just confused why Miliyah's mostly using her gentle ballad voice here which dampens the mood a little, and the generic lyrics don't really do much to an arrangement with such potential.

The next slew of ballads proved to be the strongest segment of LOVELAND. LOVER -EpisodeII- is Miliyah's solo version of m-flo's LOVER released last year, which I really enjoyed listening. Some very emotional stuff man, but I'm annoyed by the fact that someone forgot to hit the space bar between "Epsiode" and "II". The arrangement remains exactly the same, with VERBAL's parts switched out with additional verses by Miliyah, which I thought she did a great job of and transitions flawlessly to the ones already present in the original. LOVER -EpisodeII- is one of the standout ballads on this album with its minimal yet emotional arrangement.

Miliyah brought out some JASMINE sad to say vibes with PRIDE (also a JASMINE song title), with Miliyah serving us the verses at a pace that's almost rap-like before belting out the chorus which gives me the heebee jeebees! You're Beautiful genre-ically confuses us with its fast-paced OOMPTZE OOMPTZE OOMPTZE OOMPTZE (hey) OOMPZTE OOMPTZE OOMPTZE OOMPTZE (uh) (that's literally the only way I can describe it properly) at the beginning before disintegrating into a super calm, minimal arrangement with Miliyah's filtered vocals, which builds up with more slow-tempo beats as the song progresses. The song never hits a big climax, which for this song is pretty apt since it seems like it was meant to be this calm where her vocals work best.

Miliyah, together with AI and VERBAL, form the trio behind RUN FREE, the third pussy poppin' track on this album which is undeniably the most intense EDM song on this album accented with AI's soulful voice, Miliyah's gentle vocals and VERBAL's rap verses over an intentionally busy, disjointed arrangement. This track sticks out like a sore thumb on the album because it's so explosive, but I enjoy this freestyle-sounding track which was probably a joy for them to record. I'm literally imagining AI going "LE LE LE LE LE LE LE LET GO" in the studio during the bridge looking ridiculous as she always does.

The album ends off on an unfortunate, unimpressive note with One Night Only, Reisei to Jounetsu no Aida and Loveland. I can see that they left the more distinct ballads for the end of the album - One Night Only gives a more Westernised, R&B quiet storm sound with its groovy bassline and smooth, relaxing melody, while Reisei to Jounetsu no Aida is heavy on strings and plays a lot on dramatic build-ups which doesn't really lead me anywhere. Things only started to get interesting towards the end of the song, which, surprise surprise, doesn't lead me anywhere too and just fades off! The title track ended up being one of the most boring tracks on this album, being a generic piano ballad that sounds sweet, but that's really all there is to it.

LOVELAND was a roller coaster ride, and feels like an album that was intended to be a chock-full of R&B ballads, just split into sections using upbeat (and amazing) tracks as segues so you won't get bored or something. The tracks that stand out really stand out, while the weak tracks are really weak and barely leave an impression. I'm not sure if this is going to be a great first album for someone like me who hasn't listened to Miliyah before, because most of the songs on LOVELAND seem to work better standalone and shuffled with my music library as opposed to listening to the album from start to finish.

Listen to previews here.


Album highlights: Lonely Hearts, UNIQUE, The One, LOVER -EpisodeII-, PRIDE, RUN FREE