Okay so after a month and a half of listening to Mami Kawada’s latest album entitled LINKAGE, I think I’m ready enough to give words about each songs on it. But just like what I’ve said I can’t promise that the Mami-fanboy inside of me will be too bias for this review. ;p haha. Just kidding. I’ll do my best to review this one.
And the first to point out before going to the songs, what’s with the album cover? I think Mami already answered this one in one of her radio interview that this one is her OWN CONCEPT and she initiated this plan but I don’t really know what’s the purpose. Probably maturity, eh? But with the eyes of an artist, I think this one is not whole bad of a thing except that her waist is not too proportionate with her thin arms but indeed, sexy. And I think of all the I’ve girls, Mami is THE ONLY ONE who could pull out a sexy cover like this one. Wanna bet on MELL? I don’t think so — she’s a bit too old. Her young-looked face on her single/album covers are obviously photoshopped.
Anyway, going on to the whole critique proper, I have to take note that probably Mami is the only one continuing the concept of making the first track an instrumental intro for her album (KOTOKO also did until Epsilon no Fune arrived). And it’s her shortest intro too. With only a 56-second I-can’t-understand concept, I think succession is one complicated intro. Filling it only with some heavy electric guitar riffs and some synth beats that is too obviously made only by none other than I’ve Sound creator, Tomoyuki Nakazawa accompanied by long-time partner Takeshi Ozaki.
Continuing with the rock-style trance trend, they also filled the second track CLIMAX with the same sound and groove. Personally, I like this track but it’s a bit too identical to their past collaborations (e.g. Beehive). But nonetheless, one of the most exciting tracks from the album — the use of autotune on this was not too much for me though some others claim the opposite.
And for those who haven’t read, I already reviewed PSI-missing way back 2008. My mind’s not changed. This one is her best single out of the other two who made it on this album followed by masterpiece (which I will tackle later).
TOY is probably one of the most innovative, progressive and in other term “sexy” song in this album thus, complimenting the album cover. Covered with pseudo-denpa voice and very intimate Engrish line “I’m not a toy, I am free!”, this is also the LSS-inducing song of the album since I also caught myself singing those lines in some random situations. =3 Following the two creators mentioned earlier, Iuchi also has her innovative ways on how to make her song playful. While Mami also had fun singing the song, I can’t see the reason why I’m not liking the song. It was even better than KOTOKO’s coupling song for her SCREW single entitled BUCCANEER. But I was a bit shocked that those noisy and unsynchronized electric guitar riffs were absent but what makes this song recognizable by Iuchi is that its melody was a bit “complicated” and a bit hard to follow.
And after a couple of lively songs come a very cheesy title — Kotoba, Kokoro no Koe (which literally means “Words, Voice of Heart”). Probably one of the most boring songs out of the album though with a good intro. And it has to be noted that I’ve Sound King Kazuya Takase composed this one. *rolls eyes* Him and Iuchi probably trade places on this one (since they contradicted on their works on SAVIA). Well if it wasn’t only for Mami’s pleasing voice on this one, I wouldn’t have the time to appreciate this song. ;p
Next is the underrated Shana OVA song Prophecy. I haven’t made a review on this one but I could say I like the song but it’s not something too strong for me. Out of all the Shana themes, this one is probably my least favorite. It’s a rock song, yes but it’s a bit generic. The accompaniment of Ozaki with the composition is probably the problem. Nakazawa alone is already enough for me since I first recognized Ozaki as a helper on arrangement — never pictured him out to compose something.
And from what seem to think that I’ve Sound is doing techno and trance music and how come their lacking a pure one? The answer is in answer! XDDD *bricked* Though I’m not that fond of present C.G mix works lately, I think this one lives up to its own reputation. A bit generic and recognizable also in its sound but it’s nonetheless, decent music. I actually believe with Aibu’s opinion that this is one of the strongest track of the album. And to think Mami is the rock chic of I’ve, I think it’s always good to hear Mami doing some trance-y songs like this. And though I’m admitted that this is not a favorite, I still appreciate C.G’s effort to make a song for Mami — and a trance one (unlike HISUI which is a rock one and L’Oiseau bleu which a corny ballad).
And going back to the masterpiece topic, I wasn’t able to appreciate this one on first hear because of its complex, complicated, unstructured and oblivious intro. But after that, I said, “Oh great!” the rhythm of the song came through. But I was a bit in awe after hearing Mami sing for the first time. Autotune? Yes, it helped but not too much. It’s fast-paced beat makes it intriguing and likable at some point — but I couldn’t imagine something like this to be an opener for Toaru Majutsu no Index since it doesn’t sound too anime for me. Plus it’s combination of heavy synth + electric guitar makes it a bit hard to digest especially when you’re not used to hearing such kind of music. But as for me, since I’m already used to Iuchi’s compositions, it wasn’t hard for me to love this song. Too bad, it’s B-side jellyfish wasn’t able to make it on the album since it was a bit better than masterpiece.
And moving on to the most boring part, Awareness is probably the song that I loathe. ;p Takase, what are you doing composing songs like this for Mami!!? D; Fine, Yuki-chan, I’ll use your term: It’s too IKU-licious! And Mami is not even comparable to IKU’s for-ballad-only voice. Oh c’mon, can someone kick this song in the tracklist and replace it with a better one?
After the most boring one, comes the most exciting part of the album — linkage! This track is probably the strongest track of all the songs — and it should be since it’s the titular one! The PV comes out nicely as well though one-fourth of her nude body was only seen on it — but her costumes really stands out! As for the song, a very lively and rocky one and it synchronizes with Mami’s outstanding voice though her pitch is a bit hard to follow since it’s a high falsetto-like. Instrumentation sounds very good and way of singing is really that good.
The eleventh track Mirai no Tsubu ~I’m formed~ is probably the tranciest of all the songs. It doesn’t follow much the sequence of the usual lyric line but the composition itself is great. Just by hearing the preview, I knew that this one will be one of my favorites. =3 And though it follows the trend of the Engrish-back-up-voices, I still love the song. And I’m glad Iuchi is composing more upbeat songs for Mami and the other I’ve girls recently.😀 Though a bit strange on her works, it definitely kicks off a different vibration/sensation.
Though All in good time sounded a bit boring on it’s TV size, I swear it got better when I listened to the full version.😀 Seeing the translation of the song c/o of Grace’s friend, I think the way I looked at this song when I first listened to it is totally different from it is now. As what I’ve said in the beginning of the review, maturity could also be the reason since Mami is already in the music industry almost a decade ago. Yes, it sounded too downbeat and all but seeing how she got matured from all of her works, I feel happy for her. But I personally think ballad doesn’t suit Mami that much (though she could pull it out) unless it’s something like portamento.
The final track of the album DREAMS is her first cover song (ever?) and to think it’s from The Cranberries, I already think it’s 100x better than KOTOKO’s Little Baby Nothing since it sounded a bit rubbish. Personally, I think it’s a good choice that she covered a song from one of my preferred rock band from the past (Yes I love The Cranberries).😀 Though they kinda transformed the song into a trance-y triangle sound together with Mami’s somewhat improved English diction, I’m liking the song. And I thought they will make this song a bit rockier than the original. ;p
And closing this review, I think this one is in between the quality of SAVIA and SEED just like this:
SAVIA > LINKAGE > SEED
Though this album is in no way as great as SAVIA, it does live up to its reputation though it lacks new material on its side. I’d give it an 8/10.