Fantôme

utada-hikaru-fantome-album-cover

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

A/B

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(I’m too lazy to write this in Swedish too, so… yeah anyways, pretty much everyone understands English anyway soooo without any further ado…)

Kaleo’s debut album “A/B” arrived in the mail today! I’ve been following this Icelandic indie rock band for a couple of months now and it felt natural to pre-order their album after listening to their fantastic songs. I’m listening to the album at the moment, I’ll write a little about the songs below.

The album package is made of paper (I thought it would be a plastic hard case – but paper is better for the environment I suppose 🙂 ) and the only colors are black and white. Except for the photo taken over Iceland covered in snow. But that one is pretty black and white as well. A very thin booklet is included with a photo of the four members of Kaleo on the cover and information about who made the songs on the inside. The back simply tells us the members’ names. And the CD? A black and white zoomed in picture of one of their hand prints, seen on the cover.

After listening to the whole album, I noticed one thing. When looking at the cover, you understand quite quickly that “A/B” is divided in two parts – A and B. The A part seems to be much more rock ‘n’ roll while the B part seems to be much more soft. I’m not really a rock ‘n’ roll girl, but boy – if I hear these songs live, I’ll defenitely feel alive. They are maded to be played on stage, and it feels a bit sad that they’re stuck on this CD… if you understand what I mean? No matter, I’m pretty sure I’ll still play them with my mp3-player to get that kick-ass feel you get from some certain songs.

Ok, the A/B album contains these ten songs:

No good

This quick-paced rock song is something I think everyone will like. It’s great! It’s fun! The beginning is interesting and you can’t wait to hear the rest. The tamburine in the background keep you  on pin and needles… and then the drums comes. And the heavy bass. My favourite part would have to be the ending really, how everything kind of slows down with those heavy guitars before JJ Julius son (the singer) gives you that last rock ‘n’ roll scream – and then it’s over you can’t wait for the next song.

Way down we go

I love “Way down we  go”. It was the first song I heard by Kaleo and I think it’ll always be a favourite. But… I wished it had been placed last on the A part of the album (that is, after “Hoot blood”). After such an energetic start with “No good”, it feels… I dunno, misplaced? “Way down we go” is a heavy, a bit dark song and quite slow. After “No good”, I’d prefer another energetic song, but that might just be me.

Ok, to the song. Here’s another great song which makes you think you’ve had a though day and stomp your feet into a thick layer of new snow with the rythm of the drums. You’re going down with someone you love. They’re gonna get you and there’s nothing you can do about it. … Ok, I might not be so good at telling how good the song is, so just go and listen to it on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes or something and you’ll understand.

Broken bones

Here’s another heavy song. However, it feels warmer and it’s more swingingly (is that a word?). But if you listen to the lyrics, you can tell it’s not a happy song, even though the music could (with some imagination, if you don’t think about the tamburine sounding like chains) suggest so. “The devil’s gonna make me a free man”, “Ain’t no place to call a home”, “I saw my chance so I got him at last/I took his six shooter, put two in his chest”. I guess you might say this is a blues song? Like, an old blues song. Like a worker’s song. I’m no expert so don’t shoot me.

Glass house

Another quick song again! This isn’t a personal favourite, but like I wrote above, if I were to experience this song live, I might go crazy. Especially at the “ba-pa-la-ra-ra-da-da-ta-ta” part, hehe. xD The sweet guitar solo is great too. And Kaleo’s got me at the “c’mon baby, don’t say maybe” part – ok, I’ll rock with you. Too bad it’s at the last seconds of the song.

Hot blood

The last song of the A part. And… we’ll, I’m not really a rock girl like I said. So it might take a few turns to really like this one. The chorus girls in the background were a surprise though – I thought Julius son were going to be the only one singing in this album. But, hm… it ends quite abruptly and I feel like I haven’t really heard it. Was it too sprawling to my ears?

All the pretty girls

“All the pretty girls” is another favourite. A soft and sweet song which makes me think of summertime and long, Scandinavian summer nights. It’s like all the instruments are in harmony and I can’t help but feeling sorry for the poor guy who can’t seem to get the girls’ attention. And when he lower his tone… boy, Julius son got me. I’m done. That voice is lovely.

Automobile

This sounds like a sweet summer song too and as if there were no troubles in the world at all. This song is something one could put on for a long drive in the States – it sounds a bit american to me (not country, but… yeah, still country?), it sounds carefree and… let’s go all the way to Mexico like you say.

Vor í Vaglaskógi

Even if all the songs are sung in English, this one in Icelandic doesn’t sound misplaced at all. As a Swede, one might think I understand what they’re singing about… but I don’t. Except for “glittrar” (that something “glitters”). But if I read the Icelandic lyrics I understand a few words – but I gotta keep an English translation next to me to be completely sure I don’t think I actually know the words. And for once, I envy my friend for knowing a bit Icelandic (which she studied on her own as hobby when we were in high school). This sounds mysterious but still beautiful! The guitar somehow gives it a magical feeling, and a bit sad feeling too. If you want to know what they’re singing about, click here to go to their YouTube video with an English translation as subtitles.

Save yourself

I was getting used to Icelandic, and it my brain thought it a bit confusing to go back to English when I first heard it. 😛 I listen to not only songs sung in English, so it didn’t feel wrong to hear a song in Icelandic. But this song, “Save yourself”, have the same sweet, high singing tunes as “All the pretty girls” at times and the music remind me of that one and also “Way down we go”. This song… is something I’d like to hear late at night. And it’s another sweet song I’d love to hear many more times in the future.

I can’t go on without you

Ohh myyyy, if I died in “All the pretty girls” when Kaleo’s singer lowered his voice, I die once more when those whistles come. This is such a beautiful song, a tender song with those careful guitar notes- as if it doesn’t want to break you at first, as if you’re something fragile. And then it grows… with drums… and strings… and it gets bigger and bam! You’re in love with it. And boy, the way he sings “I can’t go on without you” and “We don’t want them” makes ones heart melt. At least mine. Because that’s a gorgeous voice he’s been gifted with. And let me say one thing before this long review ends: “A/B” couldn’t end in a better way than with those careful whistles.


More album reviews:

Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

Honeymoon

Nu har det gått ett antal veckor sedan Lana Del Rey släppte sitt senaste album Honeymoon och jag tänkte skriva ned mina tankar om det. 🙂

Första gången jag lyssnade på det lät allting himmelskt. Honeymoon är albumets första låt och börjar dramatiskt och avslutas med upprepning av “Dreaming away your life” som knyter ihop hela låten väldigt bra. Därefter kommer drömlika Terrence Loves You med vackra toner av en saxofon. Och låtarna smälter in i varandra innan man märker att den förra tog slut. Jag längtar tills när jag har albumet i min hand och kan lyssna på det utan avbrott… hittils har jag bara lyssnat på det med Spotify och alla deras reklampauser förstör stämningen lite grann. Jag har inte köpt Honeymoon än eftersom jag inte har råd riktigt än och tänkte vänta tills priset har sänkts efter ett halvår eller ett år.

Albumet Honeymoon har en del likheter med Born To Die och Ultraviolence, hennes föregående album. Precis som Ultraviolence har hela albumet ett slags drömliknande seghet över sig – ingen låt har särskilt högt tempo. På ett sätt är det sorgligt eftersom Lana säkerligen skulle nå ut till en större publik än den hon redan har (även om fansen är lojala och många – i alla fall i USA), men det gör på nåt sätt ändå ingenting. Hennes röst är fantastisk och kommer fram mer än vissa låtar från, säg, Born To Die – Paradise Edition. Man märker att hon har gjort Honeymoon för sin egen skull – för albumet är inget album som en stor publik skulle lyssna på tror jag. Ingen låt från Honeymoon är en typisk “radiolåt” som man nynnar med i medan man gör något annat.

Men, Honeymoon är inte Ultraviolence! Den liknar även Born To Die med annorlunda trum-beats (som i High By The Beach) och även “ljuset” i albumet känns inte lika bäcksvart som i Ultraviolence. På nåt sätt känns det som att det här albumet utspelar sig på dagen, under palmerna i Kalifornien eller i en dunkel klubb med neonljus. Om Ultraviolence var svart som natten och Born To Die ljus som dagen så är Honeymoon en skönt mellanting – nånstans i skymningen kanske. Trots att Lana fortfarande trånar efter sina bad boys som aldrig riktigt älskar henne tillbaka (“We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me” (Honeymoon), “I live to love you and I love to love you and I live to love you, boy” (Music To Watch Boys To), “Shining like gun metal, cold and unsure, baby you’re so ghetto” (Art Deco), “Dying by the hand of a foreign man, happily” (Salvatore) etc.).

Det jag gillar medn Honeymoon är, förutom Lanas vackra röst, är att hon har lyckats få in saxofoner och trumpeter in i låtarna, tillsammans med de vanliga ståkarna, utan att få det att låta dåligt. ♥ Men, även om jag var trollbunden av albumet de första dagarna så känner jag ändå att Ultraviolence var bättre. Men jag tror dock att albumet kommer att växa med tiden – precis som Ultraviolence som jag inte tyckte var lika bra som Born To Die i början pga soundet som jag inte var beredd på.


Now it’s been a few weeks since Lana Del Rey released her most recent album Honeymoon and I thought about writing down my thoughts about it. 🙂

The first time I listened to it, everything sounded heavenly. Honeymoon is the album’s first song and it begins dramatically and ends with repeating the line “Dreaming away your life” which sums up the song pretty well. After that comes Terrence Loves You with beautiful tunes of a saxophone. And the songs melt into eachother bedore you notice that the last song ended. I look forward to own the album and listen to it without any interruptions… so far, I’ve only listened to it on Spotify, and all their ads destroy the mood a little bit. I haven’t bought Honeymoon yet because I can’t afford it yet and I think I’ll wait to buy until the price has lowered after six months or a year.

The album Honeymoon has some similarities with Born To Die and Ultraviolence, her previous albums. Just like Ultraviolence, the whole album is covered with some kind of dream-like slowness – no song has a quick rhythm. That’s sad in one way because Lana would probably reach out to a larger audience than the one she already has (even though the fans are loyal and many – at least in the USA), but it doesn’t matter really. Her voice is fantastic and more “appearing” than in some songs from, say, Born To Die – Paradise Edition. You understand that she’s made Honeymoon for her own sake – because I believe the album is not an album a large audience would listen to. No song from Honeymoon is a typical “radio song” that you hum to while doing something else.

But, Honeymoon is not Ultraviolence! It does also feel similar to Born To Die with different drum-beats (like High By The Beach) and the “light” in the album isn’t as black as in Ultraviolence. In some way it feels like this album takes place during the day, under the palms in California or in some shady club with neon lights. If Ultraviolence was black as the day and Born To Die bright as the day, Honeymoon is a nice mix of them both – sometime during the twilight perhaps.Even though Lana still long for her bad boys that never quite love her back (“We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me” (Honeymoon), “I live to love you and I love to love you and I live to love you, boy” (Music To Watch Boys To), “Shining like gun metal, cold and unsure, baby you’re so ghetto” (Art Deco), “Dying by the hand of a foreign man, happily” (Salvatore) etc.).

What I like about Honeymoon is, except for Lana’s beautiful voice, is that she has managed to add saxophones and trumpets in the songs, together with the usual strings, without making it sound bad. ♥ But, even though I was bewitched by the album the first days, I still feel that Ultraviolence was better. But I do believe that the album will grow on me with time – just like Ultraviolence did, which I didn’t like as much as Born To Die in the beginning because of the sound I wasn’t prepared for.