"Fuck me now."

A new ramen restaurant just opened in town. There is massive hype for it, because it's been around in Japan for the past 10 years and is still going strong. There are long queues almost every day. Naturally, you try it for yourself one day in your hometown. Unfortunately, the soup was awfully bland. The pork slices were tough and overcooked. The noodles tasted rubbery. The bottom of the bowl didn't seem remotely near in sight even though it felt like you spent an hour trying to painfully finish it.

Now let's change the setting.

It's Koda Kumi's 15th anniversary. An autobiographical-titled album, WALK OF MY LIFE, is released. Pussies will be popped. Weaves will be snatched. Confetti will be scattered around Tokyo. The ramen will, however, still suck. But the ramen's not alone in this, because the album also sucked.

Alas, life isn't always fair like this.

What I was most excited for about Koda Kumi's latest studio effort was the fact that there weren't a lot of singles prior to the release, which meant more fresh material. The only previously-released songs were Dance In The Rain and HOTEL, both rated one of my top 20 songs last year, and well, then there's MONEY IN MY BAG.

What I liked about Dance In The Rain was its powerful and melancholic feel to the arrangement, which was full, and very organically pop. HOTEL was my summer jam because it was something delightfully different from her previous summer songs with the trumpets and all, and had a very Westernised sound to it, the only problem being her stupid nasally voice used in the verses. MONEY IN MY BAG is largely forgettable, too fast-paced for me to adequately process its pussy-popping qualities, and regretfully repetitive.

And let me just lay it on the table now that my description for one of these songs ended up being applicable to the rest of the album.

Right off the bat, Introduction ~WALK OF MY LIFE~ opens with subtle urban elements and sets the tone for the album – Kumi is kinda returning to her urban roots by meshing them with the dance-y, pop sound she left off from Bon Voyage. It ends off with a thunder that transitions appropriately and smoothly into Dance In The Rain, which during that point, I was on my knees praying that it won't be like Dejavu with its awfully trimmed songs thanks to this horrendous album gimmick. Thank god it wasn't the case. Phew!

She does like to show off her lips a lot. I'll give her credit
for looking good doing fish lips, unlike some of her peers...
such as ayumi hotmesssaki. Lippeh LiPPEH!
I wasn't a huge fan of Lippy at first. Who the fuck is Lippy? And I was initially very annoyed by the repetitive "TER NER NERRRR NERRRR NER NER NER NER NER NER NER NER" synth that keeps going on and on and on. And how every line in the chorus has the 2 same bars going "I don't KNOOOOOW why..." again and again and again, and is so incredibly grating on the ears. But repeated listens made me come to appreciate its own merits. For one, the songwriting is very self-reflective. When she talks about "Lippy," she's talking about herself. We all know Koda Kumi is naturally not the loud, sexy, ero-kakoii girl she's famed to be. But everyone thinks that's who she is, and she is a rude girl. But does she give a fuck? "No! You want to find fault with me, right? Came back. Again and again, you said, "Bitch, luck?" You say I've changed, but you've put on rose-coloured glasses, haven't you?" You tell me. Aside from the chorus, everything else is delivered right. I especially LOVEZXZS the attitude when she sings the second half of the verses, and the pre-choruses ("Ii kanji no atmosPHEEEEERE / Iitai nara right HEEEEERE"). Also loving the drum & bass-like elements and urban-y basslines, something that's consistent with the whole album.

Mercedes runs in a similar vein with Lippy, but a trashier version. I can actually see why Mercedes wouldn't have wanted to sponsor a music video for this (Not saying that they did, but they did sponsor her damn tour). Messy arrangement layered with annoyingly whiny vocals, and the only thing that stuck with me upon the first listen was the shouty "JUMP! MERCEDES!" which is NAAASTY! STOP IT!! MY HEAD HURTS!!!

When I heard the first two opening bars of Like It, I was extremely full of hope – the "Like it like it liek it, ooooh I like it like it" is INSANELY catchy in a good way unlike "JUMP! MERCEDES!". But I think this song is this album's first wasted potential. It could've been something really anthemic if they really played more with the beat and the trumpets, the latter of which is what actually makes the song stand out from the album. The pre-chorus, sadly, primes you for the chorus that is ever so underwhelming. I have to admit the bass is moderately sick, but the end of the chorus just makes you go, "That's it?" The second verse comes in too abruptly / early, the bridge could've been something more anthemic, rather than some slowed down shit (Why????) before diving back into the anti-climactic chorus. It is so sad. Why rush when the product itself is like, 2 minutes and 40 seconds?!?! I really want to Like It, but I can't. You were wrong, Kuu.

I don't know whether to feel happy or sad about House Party. Happy because it's a good song, sad because Koda Kumi participated in like, 60% of the song, maybe? I won't deny that it's got my pussy popping and I CANNOT wait to see how she's going to slay this in a live setting, but it's basically Koda Kumi feat. Unknown People. I really enjoy though.

To cap off the largely urban section, we have Interlude ~Dance~ which is TERRIBLE! There is literally nothing exciting about this. Everything already fell flat from the first four beats. Arrangement is basic. Anti-climactic. It's a terrible interlude. Next!

The second half of the album reveals its slightly poppier side, with songs like Gimme U, where the only thing that's really going for it are the piano bars that make it slightly catchier. Think Alicia Keys' If I Ain't Got You's lyrics, sung over a super BASIC, sappy, pop arrangement. "Beautiful roses and diamond rings / The recipe for happiness, anything / Baby all you gotta do is / Gimme U, Gimme U, Gimme U". There's a line that says "I'm always feeling like it's a trip to Rome" though?????????

And don't get me started on You can keep up with me because everything in it just sounds cheap. The beat is lame, the synth sound like a Garageband preset or some shit, and it was going by so quickly I was slightly hyperventilating. The chorus goes like this – "You should know..." (Okay, know what?) "You should KNOW!!!!" (Okay, what?!?!?!) "You SHOULD KNOW!!!!" (Bitch better have something good to say!) "I say you can keep up with me!!!" (What the fuck...) It's like you're in bed with this really cute guy, you've got the foreplay going smoothly, and then he says either one of the three following things: (1) There's no lube (2) There's no condom (3) He doesn't do anal. Frustrating is all.

PIECE IN THE PUZZLE sounds like a banger if played live, so at least that's a good point. But once again, lacking arrangement. Breakdown was pretty lame as well and seemed cut short. I really like that ummmm BrrrrrrrrrrABAM ummmmm BrrrrrABAM though. Chorus can be pretty annoying after a while. Reminds me of the kind of annoying people that like to emphasise on the last word of every sentence by making them significantly louder. Or have I just been unlucky my whole life?

Fake Tongue starts out with a pretty hot urban beat that gets me popping my pussy, and the verses show potential, but her soft sing-speaking caused a drastic contrast to the shouty chorus that, at this point, I am already very tired of dealing with. It sounds like a song I could get down in a live setting, but I'm not feeling the studio version, once again, because of the production. I have to admit that the breakdown and the guitar solo are pretty bangin' though.

Koda Kumi tries to distract you with her puppy
eyes from this terrible album. No bitch,
you did not stub your toe. 
Wasted potential number 2 – Sometimes Dreams Come True, and probably the song that I am most upset about. I'd just like to say that so much could have been done to improve on this throwaway pop song that sounds like what Jessie J (she did co-write it) or Kelly Clarkson would've done. It starts off with a guitar riff that Koda Kumi sings over, before bringing in a simple drum beat followed by the synths, etc. etc. Then it just repeats after the first chorus.

As its name implies, the song is about how "I imagined an award as they would call my name / Dreaming I was a singer / My aim was to be an awesome girl", and that you know, sometimes dreams do come true. But the delivery of her vocals was pallid without emotion. I don't entirely blame her, because there was no build up at the crucial points of the song – between the verse and the chorus (the latter itself is already underwhelming), between the end of the chorus and the second verse (the abruptness of this was especially jarring), and from the bridge to the last chorus. I think given a more emotional arrangement, this would be AMAZING live. Like, I-would-cry kinda amazing. But I don't hear any sort of "IT WAS HARD BUT MY DREAM HAS COME TRUE BITCHES" coming from her vocals.

LIFE so GOOD!! starts off pretty anthemic, poppy with a catchy drum beat, and complementing guitar riffs. It's like an edgier version than Run For Your Life. It's your typical summer jam that you can imagine Kuu making a music video of... and it looks exactly like Run For Your Life actually LOL. This is relatively catchier when it's in this album. I can see myself jamming to this live!!!

WALK OF MY LIFE, as it symbolically suggests, goes last, which is arguably the best song lyrically and musically. I would've awarded my gorl a homerun with this one if not for its horrendously cheap music video. It's a pop ballad – similarly organic-sounding as Dance In The Rain – that's very self-reflective, melancholic, and is a song you know is written by a confident woman who's gone through a lot of shit to be where she is today, and bitch delivered it. This is basically everything Sometimes Dreams Come True isn't.

Almost every song in this album, coincidence or not, seems to follow the formula of get-the-song-done-ASAP-please. I don't know why but everything sounds so rushed, and I'm damn sure it has nothing to do with the track lengths because all songs sans the last two run for less than 3 mins 30 seconds (but the fact that most of the songs felt longer than that is bad in itself). I'm getting heart palpitations just listening to how the songs don't get the time to fully make use of what they have. So many tracks on here could've easily been fleshed out for improvements, like Like It and Sometimes Dreams Come True, among others.

While I was initially not bothered, after several listens through, I can see why people think Kumi is especially shouty on this album – because almost every song seems to have a "shouting" element to it with repeated melody lines. Once again, everything seems so formulaic, the songs like B-grade demos. But I'll give the album a benefit of doubt – there's a good chunk of songs here that I believe might change some opinions once heard live properly. And we'll see when that time comes around when Koda Kumi performs here on 18 July ;)

Above all, I am unfortunately disappointed by an album that's largely forgettable, yet supposedly marketed to be a significant 15th anniversary milestone album. I'm sorry, this is a walk I do not wish to partake in. I'll head on over to 2014 and continue popping my pussy to Bon Voyage.

Listen to previews here.


Album highlights: Dance In The Rain, Lippy, House Party, HOTEL, LIFE so GOOD!!, WALK OF MY LIFE