These are my notes written during my very first listen to Arashi's new album. I confess that I was nervous as I unraveled all the packaging, thanks mostly to the myriad opined voices of my Twitter timeline that had left me feeling weary and even a tad reluctant to listen to this album. As I popped the first disc into the drive, my expectations were about to be tested.
I was in for a very pleasant surprise.
Green Light : "instant like, double thumbs up!"
I remember feeling the exact same way when I first heard 'Drive' on the AYH? album. I loved it as the opening track and Green Light is the same for me.
Tsunagu : "Mumon feeeeels! Going to see the movie next week!"
This is a powerful song, and Ohno's vocals are magnificent. This single was an instant like for me.
Mikan : "LOVEEE!"
I can't say enough good things about this song, and I'm super glad it is the title song for the album because it represents what「untitled」is all about. I love the variety of musical genres within the one song, and the Sakurap is sensational. Many opinions I've read about this song so far have genuinely made me sad. I don't know if it's a generational thing but I generally find the younger set don't fully understand or get it (and this is not to be insulting in any way, just a personal observation).
Sugar : "instant like, especially the harmonies and high notes. Kinda K-poppy"
I didn't write anything more than these words. I like this song a lot and I'm especially looking forward to seeing it performed live.
Power of the Paradise : "like the title suggests, a power piece"
This song is truly uplifting, makes you want to get up and go places. I even find myself subconsciously doing all the arm movements like they do in the MV.
Ari no Mama de : "sweet vibe, LOVE IT!"
I even scribbled on my notepad, the "C'mon baby" by Sakurai is KYAA!
Fuun : "rock-like tune; don't know about this one yet"
I didn't warm to this song, perhaps it will grow on me after a few more listens.
I'll Be There : "Kizoku Tanteiiiiiii!"
I love the whole introduction to this song, the way it lulls you into thinking it's going to be a slow ballad, but then suddenly slaps you with heavy brass and drums to shake you awake.
Houyou : "trance-like melody, which becomes distinctly disco-floor sleaze"
Now that I've seen my Twitter timeline blow up over this song and it's lyrics I am sure this song is "'In The Room' if I met you in a club" :) It is a sexy, sleazy song which I hope they do justice to during their upcoming concert performances.
Pray : "Slow piano number, nice"
After listening to the sensual tease that is 'Houyou' they follow it up with an atonement number. Kind of weirdly placed on the album to be honest, but then I suppose that's Arashi. They are all kinds of emotions all rolled into one whole package. With them, it's a matter of you get what you get when you get it.
Hikari : "instant like, gospel style which appeals to me"
When Ninomiya played us a teaser of this track a few weeks ago on Baystorm, I was instantly smitten. I adore American gospel music so the intro had me reeled right in. The vocals on this track are freaking amazing, especially Nino (and Aiba in the second verse, or so say my notes!)
Kanata e : "Power of the Paradise Part II"
Again, the vocals in this song are freaking amazing. I am actually totally floored by the maturity and strength in their vocals on this album. Especially MatsuJun and Nino. Both of them have had me shouting EHHHH?! a lot during this first listen.
Song For You : "Ohno, you bastard! you made me cryyy"
Seriously, this song is EPIC! On so many levels this song deserves a trophy/medal/award. It transported me right back to my childhood. This review might reveal my true age but with this song I was swept away with playful images of Disney movies, along with all the classic cartoons and black & white movies I used to watch with my grandparents. I could see classical Fred & Ginger style dances and Tom & Jerry all at the same time. Oh myyyy!
And yes, Ohno made me cry. His vocals in this number are breath-taking. As I sat listening and sobbing, I cried out "you bastard!" because I was so emotional from listening to this. As one of my friends pointed out, "This is not a song, it is an EXPERIENCE" and she is so right. It is an experience because for ten minutes I was elevated into a full-length narrative of childhood memories.
Bazuri Night : "Busy. Noisy. Frantic"
I had to listen to this song more than once just to determine whether or not I liked it. The jury is still out I'm afraid to say. I just don't know if I like this style. Actually, to be fair I think this song is going to be more amazing live. I remember when I first heard 'TRAP', I felt really negative about that song until I saw it performed live and then the song went straight onto my iPod (and I listen to it frequently).
Yoru no Kage : "Nino's vocals are H O T T T T T T!"
This song is funky, uptempo sexy, with a New York/American influence thrown in. Kind of reminds me a little bit of Nino's AYH? solo song "Mata Kyou to Onaji Asu ga Kuru" (the tempo and the vibe). I actually slammed my pen down on the table several times whilst writing my notes because Nino made me scream with his vocal, "Can't stop me now" UGHHH!
UB : "sounds perfect for a drama theme tune"
I was nervous about hearing this song because my Twitter timeline was abuzz with mixed feelings and comments. I instantly felt that it was sweet with a lovely beat and nice harmony. I kind of got a 'Himitsu' type vibe from it to be honest. The lyrics are truly sweet too, their friendship has stood the test of time and I love that about them the most.
Come Back : "it could grow on me but I'm not overly fond...yet"
The first listen I admit that I was abit skeptical. Now that I've listened to it a few more times, I think I was right the first time. It has grown on me but it still isn't a favourite from this album. In my somewhat humble opinion, this song would be perfect if it was a MatsuJun solo song. It suits him admirably.
Kanpai Song : "American influence again! Pass me another beer! *hic*"
This song is going to be interesting to see performed live. What will they do for this I wonder? I would bet the beer will be flowing at all the after-parties. I see this song in many of their end-of-year magazine shoot themes; the party games, the card games, Nino's magic tricks, Jenga, and lots and lots of (Kirin?) beer. It gives us an insight into how they wind down after a heavy schedule or a concert tour.
All in all, for an album which had so much mixed feelings and negative vibes attached to it, judging purely from my Twitter timeline, I was blown away. For my first listen, I was completely enthralled. It has a AYH? vibe to it but with new genres and themes which make it truly stand out proudly all on its own. Congratulations to all songwriters/composers for this epic journey of an album. I think the risk factors for Arashi as a unit (pardon the pun) have well and truly paid off. My rating: 9.5/10