Aikawa Nanase [Foxtrot] (Fourth Album)

January 11, 2009

Second Wind
Bitch
Heat Of The Night
China Rose
THANK U
“7”
Cosmic Love
Gin Iro No Fune
-Gozen2jino koibito-
Sekai Wa Kono Te No Naka Ni
Crying
Jealousy
Hanabi Ga Owaru Koro

The first track on the album is the moody Second Wind. I’ve always thought this to be one of Aikawa’s weakest album openers. I never really found myself paying much attention to it, because nothing about it, not even the chorus seemed to jump out at me. I think its grown on me a bit and I kind a like that quiet intense air it exudes. The arrangement is rock, guitar-based and its certainly fitting. Aikawa’s vocals are good, slow during the verses and she brings the attitude with the chorus. I always get the feeling of a sulking child when I hear this song, though. A nice start to the album.

The next track on the album is the underwhelming Bitch. Every time I see this title I think, this is one song I’m really going to like and I always leave a little disappointed. The arrangement sounds badass, but a bit show tune especially at the end, I mean were those horns and or trumpets I was listening to? Aikawa’s vocals are decent in a sense, but she sounds so juvenile that I can’t really take her seriously. I hate the ‘bitch!’ in the background when she’s singing the chorus it sounds so lame and then at the end when Aikawa says: ‘don’t call me a bitch’ it just brings it all home.

The next track on the album is the mid-tempo Heat Of The Night. This is definitely one of Aikawa’s best songs and not only that but its in my top ten favorite of hers. I love how the song manages to rock out without going overboard. The pace is neat and consistent; the arrangement is the drums and man ‘whoever’ is playing them so good I could listen to the instrumental alone. Aikawa’s vocals are really controlled in this song as well as good and I love when she says, ‘in the heat of the night!’ this is a great song.

The next track on the album is another one of my favorites, China Rose. Its also one of her best songs. The arrangement is so powerful its one of the best I’ve ever heard. It sounds so tragic and tortured and makes me picture someone frozen, but very beautiful with a black heart. Aikawa’s vocal performance is one of the best and strongest she’s ever given; I still can’t help but be awed and impressed every time I hear it.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo THANK U. This song is pretty weird to me. I mean I am no stranger to Aikawa’s ballads sometimes they are better than her rock songs, but this one just confused me. The arrangement is very slow and it makes me picture someone sitting in a classroom or the airport watching the face clock and wishing that it would hurry up and be the end of the day or time to board. The same goes for Aikawa’s vocals, they weren’t bad, but it was like it was going nowhere. I mean this song isn’t bad, but I just don’t think I care for it. I honestly don’t know though, maybe it’ll grow on me. Hmm? NOTE: All right, I listened to the song over again and have come to the conclusion that I don’t like it. Its boring and seems to have no point to it and to top it off its too long, long enough to make your mind numb.

The next track on the album is the interlude “7”. Aikawa is talking over an arrangement that sounds like space travel. I believe she was counting down to ‘7’ since before the track ended I heard: ‘six’, ‘seven’.

The next track on the album is the mid-tempo Cosmic Love. I almost never pay attention to this song when I listen to this album and I’m not sure if I’ve ever liked or disliked it. The arrangement is psychedelic, throw-back to the 70’s peace and love and drugs and stuff. I really like it, also I heard some exotic chimes or cymbals in the beginning which gave it a momentary Middle Eastern flare. Aikawa’s vocals were good, I mean I didn’t too much care for the verses, but I did love her tones during the chorus which is the high light of this whole track.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo Gin Iro No Fune. This isn’t an interesting ballad and certainly not one of her best, but its nice in the fact that the sheer quietness of this song is very intense. The arrangement sounds like the calm before the storm, it doesn’t really pop out at you, but it makes for a very absorbing listen, because its hardly noticeable, but you know its there. Aikawa’s vocals were pretty tame she didn’t try to do too much and pretty much kept it at the same pace throughout. It was the right way to go, because I liked what I heard and normally songs like this would either a) bore me to death or b) go completely over my head.

The next track on the album is the mid-tempo -Gozen2jino koibito-. I actually expected this song to be more down-tempo. The arrangement sounds like static or that sound a walkie-talkie makes when its receiving transmission. Aikawa’s voice seemed to mimic it and it made me think of Aikawa crouching in the marsh singing into her walkie-talkie. This is a pretty OK song it has a nice chorus, but I’ll make a note not to listen to it when my head hurts, it really brings down the enjoyment value.

The next track on the album ups the pace a bit more with Sekai Wa Kono Te No Naka Ni. This is an all right song, but I don’t think I too much care for it. The arrangement is rock, pure and true, it has a nice flow I guess, but it is a bit messy and grating especially when its given time to shine. Aikawa’s vocals were tame and assertive all at once and I did enjoy how she ripped the verses so quick like, but went for a mild approach with the chorus. This is a decent song, but its not really my cup of tea I couldn’t see myself listening to this again and enjoying it.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo Crying. This is hands down one of Aikawa’s best ballads, its quite touching. The arrangement is rather gentle and made me think of water cupped in your hands. Aikawa’s vocal performance was on point and I loved how fragile and somewhat broken she sounded. This is definitely a good listen, Aikawa surely knows how to deliver some good ballads.

The second to last track on the album is one of my favorites, Jealousy. This is one of the first songs I heard by Aikawa and one of the first video’s I’d seen of hers. Though it was so long ago I still remember how cheesy the video was, but how great the song is. The arrangement is very chaotic and screechy in a sense and makes you think of tumbling into madness, seriously. Aikawa gave a good vocal performance, but only the chorus really stood out most notably the ‘jealousy!’ parts. This song is a little underwhelming in a sense, but still one of her best songs.

The last track on the album is the heart-breaking Hanabi Ga Owaru Koro. Oh, this song is really gorgeous. The arrangement is so minimal you hardly even notice its there, in fact all I heard was the saxophone which played like melancholy in the background every so often. It was such a nice touch. Aikawa’s vocals were so sad in the sense that it felt like she was trying to sing this song and hold back tears at the same time, I mean that’s the impression I got. Absolutely lovely ballad, is there a ballad from Aikawa that I don’t like?

This album also comes with two bonus lives, those being: Sweet Emotion and BUB.

-GRADE: B+
Rating: **1/2 stars

Aikawa Nanase’s fourth album Foxtrot is pretty good and a thousand times better than her previous album Crimson. This album had three of her best and most well-known songs: Heat Of The Night, China Rose and Jealousy. The album started out on a good note and ended on an even better one, plus the down-tempo songs on here were really just good and I’m glad she featured more this time around, because they were so absent on her previous album. I mean she’s a J-rock chick first and I have no problem with that, but its OK to show a much softer side of yourself every one in a while and it warms my heart to know that Aikawa really has no problem doing just that. Foxtrot was good, but its not her best album. Ah, I really wish she would release some new material.

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