Namie Amuro – PLAY

July 14, 2007 at 2:28 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro | Leave a comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

PLAY is Namie Amuro’s 7th studio album and it was released on June 27, 2007. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 516,319 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

 Quite possibly one of the best opening tracks on an album EVER is the highly infectious Hide & Seek. Words cannot express how much this song blew my mind when I first heard it since it clearly showcases Amuro’s newly refined R&B style. I also loved the mix of whistles, brass, and percussion beats that are incorporated into the song.

Track 2 was another surprising song. Full Moon is odd because of the different sounds in it but the chorus really makes up for it. Like in the previous track, it uses an awesome marching band rhythm.

I have always liked CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK so it was great to hear it amongst the newer songs. It doesn’t sound outdated at all.

The next track, It’s all about you, features the electric guitar as the main instrument of the song. It’s something you don’t hear in a Namie Amuro song that often but it was first utilized in her 1997 song Concentration 20 (make you alright) and this song feels like an updated and much better version of it. I was impressed with the overall package in the end.

Even though FUNKY TOWN is my least favorite of the previously released A-sides on the album, I still find it to be a fun song. It can get a little silly at times especially towards the middle of it.

Track 6, Step With It, is a nice mid-tempo track. The only problem I had with it were the male background vocals going “Ohhhhhhhhhhh“. They were really annoying to be honest.

Track 7 is more of a dance club song compared to the other tracks because it is slower paced but has rhythmic vocals and beats. Along with Hide & Seek, Hello was an album promotional track that also had a PV filmed for it.

Should I Love Him? is the only slow jam on the album and it’s not that bad. Amuro’s vocals are fantastic but I thought everything else was kind of boring.

Track 9 cracks me up. Top Secret opens with Amuro saying “I wanna taste you tonight. Hit me.” and I couldn’t help but laugh. That’s beside the point because this is an excellent song. The music is more aggressive and the verses feature fast vocals.

The ’spicy’ version of Violet Sauce is a much needed update of the original. The new version sounds so much better because a lot of toned down elements of the original (the electric guitar and main percussion) are elevated and have a stronger presence in the song.

The last two tracks on the album represent the lingering ’pop’ side of Amuro’s music. Baby Don’t Cry was Amuro’s most commercially successful song in years because it definitely sounds more mainstream. However, I love this song because of its calm and relaxing atmosphere.

Since the album opened with an awesome song, it should close with one too, right? That’s exactly what Pink Key does. It’s an inspiring song with lovely lyrics and a poppish clapping rhythm. I love the English lyrics in the song too: Now it’s time to find your way.

PLAY easily gets my pick for most surprising album of 2007. Namie Amuro does all the right things with this album and it’s superb from beginning to end. Compared to her other albums that have ventured into the full blown R&B style, this is her best one. Now that Amuro has found the brand of music that suits her best, I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the future.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Hide & Seek
2. Full Moon
3. CAN’T SLEEP, CAN’T EAT, I’M SICK
4. It’s all about you
5. FUNKY TOWN
6. Step With It
7. Hello
8. Should I Love Him?
9. Top Secret
10. Violet Sauce (Spicy)
11. Baby Don’t Cry
12. Pink Key

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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