Aikawa Nanase [7 Seven] (Sixth Album)

September 8, 2008

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LIE LIE LIE
R-Shitei
BLUE KNIFE
Renai Taishitsu
BLACK ANGEL
Mokka no Koibito
Dahlia -She Knows Love-
Ai no Uta -Magenta Rain-
Natsu no Hi no Choral
Hi wo Tsukero Baby!!
Toki no Kaze
NIGHT RAINBOW
Shock of Love (Bonus Track)

The album opens with the nice up-tempo and rockish LIE LIE LIE a song I can honestly say I didn’t think I would like; when I first listened to this album I didn’t like it, because I thought it was forgettable, but I think that the best part about this song is the chorus where Aikawa belts out: ‘Do you want to hold me!?’ and then the guitars and the arrangement flare and really back her up and brings this song to it’s full potential. It’s one of her better album openers.

The next track is the acid-trip-esque R-Shitei a song I could not stand when I first listened to this album because I thought it was beyond annoying. I still sort of think so now that I’ve listened to it for the umpteenth time. Usually I don’t mind Aikawa’s wild party like up-tempo rock songs, because they are some of her best, but this one I just can’t decide whether I like it or not. I mean it has grown on me, but one minute I’ll like it and the next I’ll hate it. I think it has something to do with the fact that this song tends to go all over the place to the point where I can’t even bother with it and then I’ll listen and hear potential.

Aikawa slows it down just a little with this next track BLUE KNIFE. A song that I love and hate, but love more than the previous track and hate less than the previous track. Aikawa’s vocals tend to strain during the chorus hardly noticeable at first, but when she begins to repeat it towards the end it becomes glaring. I do love how this song is so atmospheric and makes you picture blue storm filled skies. The arrangement is also really nice and I like how she paused in her singing to give it time to shine.

We pick up the pace again with the head-banging Renai Taishitsu. A song that to me is similar to R-Shitei in the fact that it’s all over the place, but at the same time it’s a bearable kind of all over the place. Aikawa sings this song really fast (with tolerable vocals) which is a bummer, because unless I know Japanese fluently I’ll never be able to sing along to it and that really brings the song down. Still, it’s an OK body moving up-tempo track, though not her best.

Finally we get to one of the best and true gems on this album, Black Angel. This is such a great song and one of my favorite Aikawa tracks. I just love how dark it is and how intense and somewhat depressed Aikawa’s vocals are especially during the. ‘Oh-no, I never!’ parts during the chorus. The arrangement is just perfect for a song of this caliber and that along with Aikawa’s controlled vocals makes this the stand-out track on the album.

Aikawa slows it way down with the first real down-tempo track Mokka no Koibito. A song that at exactly 3:00 minutes is entirely too short to get it’s point across. It’s boring, flat, filler and utterly forgettable.

After the bore-fest that was Mokka no Koibito Aikawa picks it up a tad with the somewhat mid-tempo, Dahlia -She Knows Love-. This is a very unique title. One thing that always draws me into a song is the title if I like the title I’m almost guaranteed to like the song and songs with titles that I like usually become some of my all time favorites. Dahlia -She Knows Love- is no exception. It’s quite a beautiful song and I adore Aikawa’s vocals, because she really gets into the song and I don’t know if it’s just me, but she sounds awfully sad throughout. I’m really glad that she let the instrumental of this song shine, because it’s really gorgeous and gives way to a very gripping nostalgia; definitely one of the best tracks on the album.

Not slowing down and not speeding up either we go into the next track Ai no Uta -Magenta Rain-. With a title like ‘Ai no Uta’ I actually expected it to be another ballad, it wasn’t, per say. The verses are forgettable, but what really makes this song shine is the chorus where Aikawa picks up speed and really drives it home giving an ordinarily ballad-type song a definite rock edge that is both refreshing and appreciated.

Natsu no Hi no Choral the next track really surprised me. I actually thought it was going to be another up-tempo, rock track following in the same vein as R-Shitei and Renai Taishitsu, but to my pleasant surprise it went a little along the lines of BLUE KNIFE and Dahlia ~She Knows Love~. The instrumental arrangement is just beautiful and I love how Aikawa lets her voice fade out during the chorus and the instrumental comes in and shines. It really brings depth and poignancy to this song. I’d have to say out of all the tracks on this album this one pleased me the most.

The next track Hi wo Tsukero Baby!! picks up the pace a bit and leads us towards the end of the album. This is truly a party song. While listening to this (and feeling my mind numb), I could perfectly picture your typical College party with drunk teens flailing all over the place while the band played this and everyone went wild. I sort of get this song, but not really. It’s one of those migraine-inducing songs that I’m not too fond of and I don’t particularly like Aikawa’s vocals or the haphazard musical arrangement, plus I’m not a party girl. This song, though appealing in it’s own way is annoying and oddly repetitive.

The second to last song on the album Toki no Kaze is very odd. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it sounds so misplaced. I found myself hardly paying attention to it and out of all the songs on this album this is the most forgettable one. At least Mokka no Koibito is forgettable in a too short and boring way, but this is forgettable in a, ‘wait, what was I just listening to?’ way.

The last official track on the album is the wonderfully quirky and experimental Night Rainbow. A song in which I wish Aikawa would have ended the album on. This song gives you the feeling of a seedy night life with brightly colored clubs and strip bars all lit up in every color of the rainbow. In a sense the song is rather dreary, but fluorescently colorful at the same time.

Aikawa decides to tack on a bonus track. Normally I hate bonus tracks because they’re unnecessary and completely ruin what could have been a great ending to a great album. In this case Shock of Love ruins. It’s like a different more asinine take on Night Rainbow and I just hate it because it’s so irritating; during the horridly strained vocally challenged chorus I wanted to rip my ears off. This is one of Aikawa’s worst songs, worst arrangements and worst vocal performances EVER.

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

I don’t really understand why people never review Aikawa albums or singles she’s the greatest J-Rock chick ever. All the review sites I visit I have never once seen a review for Aikawa. Yes, she has been out of the music scene since ’06, but that’s no excuse, because a lot of reviewers review old singles in albums from artists like Ayu, Kuu, Hikki and BoA. Aikawa is thankfully making a comeback; I really enjoyed her digital single PRISM and can’t wait for that new single that is rumored to be coming out hopefully this year from her. 7 seven was her last album before she took time off to focus on her family and it was a good way to leave the music world for a while; normally artists disappoint with their latest albums: Shimatani Hitomi’s Flare comes to mind as well as Ayu’s GUILTY and BoA’s The Face just to name a few. Aikawa on the other hand exceeded, because this was world’s above her previous album Purana which I disliked. If Aikawa keeps going along this route I’m sure her seventh album will be even better and I can’t wait.

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