Album cover of Utada Hikaru’s “Fantôme”.
One of my favourite Japanese artists, Hikaru Utada, has finally released her new album “Fantôme” a few weeks ago, and now I’ve finally listened to it a few times! Her latest Japanese album, “Heart Station”, was released 8 years ago and her latest American album, “This Is The One”, was released 7 years ago. So many fans, including me, have been waiting for a very long time for a new album! And this bilingual (maybe even multilingual?) lady hasn’t disappointed us!
I’m not going to review every single song in this review, not like I did for Kaleo’s “A/B”, but more of the overall impression I got from listening to the album.
“Fantôme”‘s sound is less pop-heavy as “Heart Station” and more stripped-down. Two examples of this is “真夏の通り雨” (“Manatsu no Tooriame” or “Midsummer Showers“) where only a piano and strings can be heard in the beginning, and “人魚” (“Ningyo” or “Mermaid“) where only a harp and drums can be heard along with Utada’s beautiful voice and back-up voices. Even of the lack of instruments, I can already say it’ll be one of my favourite songs by her – the way she softly sings feels like a blessing. And like many might have noticed by now, “Fantôme” surely sounds much different compared with her older works. I don’t ever think there’s been a rap/r’n’b song included in her Japanese albums before? We’ve heard some r’n’b beats in her American albums, but this time, in “忘却 feat. Kohh” (“Boukyaku” or “Forgotten“) it’s mostly not Utada herself who sings (or raps). I think this song is brilliant, she’s not the focus of the song, but Kohh and Utada complement each other perfectly. The dreamy beginning is pure perfection too. I wish I could understand the lyrics though, I bet it’s powerful.
However, being one of Japan’s biggest pop artists, I don’t think this album would have been complete without a pop song either. Funky tunes can be heard in “荒野の狼” (“Kouya no Ookami” or “Wolf in the Wilderness“) (though it’s still very stripped down in my opinion) and “ともだち feat. 小袋成彬” (“Tomodachi” or “Friend“) might be the album’s only song with a more or less pop sound with electronic sounding drums and guitar and a catchy, quick-paced chorus.
“Fantôme” might not be my favourite album by her at the moment, even though all the songs are good. I can’t really say why, but maybe I just prefer her pop songs like “Travelling” more. But I can already say that I love the last song of the album, “桜流し” (“Sakura Nagashi” or “Flowing Cherry Blossoms“), since I heard it for the first time two years ago and I’m so happy it’s included in the album.
So, my favourite songs are: 俺の彼女 (“Ore no Kanojo” or “My Girlfriend“) (because who doesn’t love Utada’s French? ♥), 花束を君に (“Hanabata wo Kimi Ni” or “A bouquet of flowers for you“), “人魚” (“Ningyo” or “Mermaid“), “真夏の通り雨” (“Manatsu no Tooriame” or “Midsummer Showers“), “忘却 feat. Kohh” (“Boukyaku” or “Forgotten“) and 桜流し (“Sakura Nagashi“).
More album reviews:
Kaleo – A/B
Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon