Automatic -Album Edit–
Movin’ on without you
In My Room
Amai Wana ~Paint It, Black (甘いワナ ～; Sweet Trap ~Paint It, Black)
time will tell
Never Let Go
B&C -Album Version–
Give Me A Reason
Automatic -Johnny Vicious Remix-
The album starts off with the incredible Automatic -Album Edit–. I’m sorry, but no matter how many times I listen to this it just never gets old. I mean even the beat which should sound generic now, is still as addicting as it was back in ’99. Hikki gives off one fantastic vocal performance, you could just tell she was really into the song, especially when she starts ad-libbing towards the end. I love singing this song right along with her. This is one of her best tracks, top ten and a kick-ass start to the album.
The next track on the album keeps the pace going with Movin’ on without you. I use to really detest this song a few years back and I kind a still do, but I guess its grown on me. The arrangement is a mix of pop, tech and rnb and plays well enough, if not generically. Hikki’s vocal performance was decent, but it was pretty weak, which is a shocker compared to the strong vocal performance of the previous track. I also really hate the contradicting English, ‘nothing’s gonna stop me, only you can stop me’ what? Ah, this song is all right, just not anything I’d listen to on a regular basis.
The next track on the album winds things down with In My Room. This is a song by Utada that I have always liked, but never really listen to. In fact this is my first time listening to it in years and it still sounds rather smooth on the ears. An arrangement doused heavily in rnb and a nice clean vocal performance from Hikki. This is definitely an underrated song from her.
The next track on the album is the down-tempo First Love. I love how this song is track four and four is my favorite number. Its no secret I’m madly in love with this song, it was the first Hikki song I ever heard aside from ‘simple and clean’, started my obsession with J-music and is my favorite Japanese song of all time. It just embodies love and letting go in such a real and emotional way. The song is bittersweet, but thankful at the same time. This is one song that never gets old, I’ll always hold it dear to me.
The next track on the album brings the pace back up with Amai Wana ~Paint It, Black (甘いワナ ～; Sweet Trap ~Paint It, Black ). I have never really liked this song, it isn’t bad, but it has no structure really and just seems to be all over the place. The arrangement sounds like an unfinished beat and they just decided to loop it so it sounds pretty clunky and uninteresting. Hikki’s vocals aren’t bad, but sometimes I had a hard time figuring out whether she was singing or not, since her vocals aren’t clear enough and the arrangement seems to overpower her. This is not one of her best tracks, that’s for sure.
The next track brings the pace back down a tad with time will tell. I always confuse this with ‘time limit’. I use to didn’t like this song and I still don’t, really, if only because it never seems to really go anywhere and its always come across as rather boring to me. I do like the simple and unobtrusive arrangement and Hikki’s nice vocal performance. This song is all right and I figure it’ll grow on me.
The next track on the album is the infectious Never Let Go. I love this song, this is definitely one of my old faves from Hikki and I really wish she would take advantage of it, its so underrated. It just oozes rnb and it sounds so familiar, I’m wondering if she sampled this? It brings me back to the old 90’s rnb in hip-hop when they had such smooth yet catchy arrangements with the vocals to match. I just love when she says, ‘i’ll never let go’ and the ‘what am i supposed to do, if i can’t have you?’ Ah, I really wish she would sing this live.
The next track on the album is the rather smooth B&C -Album Version–. I have always wondered what the B & C in this song stood for, now I have an uneasy feeling that is stands for ‘bonnie & clyde’ how romantic, I’d just love to runaway with a man and get shot up together in the name of love. Anyways, this is a pretty underrated song, that I didn’t too much like at first and then one day I just sat down and listened to it and realized… I liked it. The arrangement just like in the previous, it sounds so familiar, I’m really prone to think she sampled it. Its a nice arrangement either way. Hikki gave a rather solid vocal performance and I wish she would have sounded like this in ‘amai wana’ I just love the ‘take me with you’ part.
The next track on the album is the utterly forgettable Another Chance. I never listen to this track and for good reason, its boring. The arrangement is all right, but even that becomes background noise after a while because it doesn’t do anything, despite the smooth and likable flow of it. Hikki’s vocals are decent, but it like a missing track off of ‘precious’ there’s just no substance and I just stopped caring. This is definitely one of her worst tracks, ever.
The next track is Interlude. Its pretty pointless and short, even for an interlude.
The next track on the album is the mind-numbing Give Me A Reason. This track is unfortunately the longest on the album and its quite possibly Hikki’s most boring song ever, I mean I’d rather listen to ‘another chance’. The arrangement is so stagnant its practically non-existent, I hardly noticed it. Hikki’s vocals are decent, but that’s not saying much because this song goes absolutely nowhere. I mean after a while I just stopped paying attention to it all together. I have never liked this track and have always wondered why Hikki even bothered recording it. The length is absurd, especially considering how painfully dull it is, this song is fail.
The last track on the album is Automatic -Johnny Vicious Remix-. Uh, I’d have to say this was a pretty pointless and not very good, borderline annoying remix. A very weak ending to the album.
Rating: ** stars
Utada Hikaru’s first album First Love is a good listen for nostalgic purposes and unless you like this album, then only for nostalgic purposes, because as I’ve said before this is her weakest Japanese album to date and quite possibly the only weak Japanese album she’ll ever have. I’ve always disliked how the first half of albums are always so good and then taper off towards the second half, its annoying and drags the album down. I don’t know what Hikki was thinking with ‘another chance’ or ‘give me a reason’ or even how they made the cut, but those are two songs from Hikki that are so forgettable its not even funny. This album has some classics on it though, those being ‘automatic’ which is always a great listen and ‘first love’ which is one of the main reasons why Hikki is one of my ultimate favorites and let’s not forget ‘never let go’ I love that track. The other three I liked are pretty good as well and I’m still surprised that ‘movin’ on without you’ has grown on me; ‘amai wana’ isn’t a bad song, I just don’t really get it. First Love isn’t a bad debut, but since this is the highest selling Japanese album of all-time I think I expected it to be a bit epic and not sound so dated; I don’t care if it was released in ’99, it just sounds so average compared to her later albums, but I suppose its to be expected.
*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 6th, 2009]