Beni Arashiro – GEM

July 8, 2008 at 5:41 PM | Posted in BENI | 2 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

GEM is Beni Arashiro’s 3rd album and it was released on April 25, 2007. The album reached #126 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,568 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Opening the album is a song that’s pretty aggressive and it works really well as the first track. BAD GIRL is like a proclamation because of its lyrical content which is mostly in English. Filled with thumping synth riffs and sensual lyrics, the song does show off a new, more mature side of her. On top of that, the music has a nice urban sound to it.

The next track is a little slower paced, but still displays an urban vibe. Mermaid mostly comprises of various beats and disc scratches and it doesn’t show some variety until the end when the electric guitar shows up. I thought that Arashiro performed the song well and she emoted a good amount of spunk and sass into her voice.

One of my favorite of the album’s new tracks was definitely Losin’ control. What I liked the most about this song were Arashiro’s muffled “rapping sections” which were backed by monotone piano chords. These parts sounded pretty cool and I found them to be pretty catchy. The brazen chorus features some nice power vocals as well.

The album’s first 3 tracks are some of the most musically aggressive songs Arashiro has ever done but the next song is also quite surprising. Loved is a slow, jazzy piece complete with a brass section and relaxing instrumentals. Her vocals are excellent and go very well with the jazz lounge atmosphere of the music.

Two singles are up next and they begin with the latest one. Like I said before, Luna is one of the better ballads of her career because of its sweeping arrangement and additional bass beats.  The vocals could have been a little better, especially with the high notes, but that’s only a minor flaw.

Now we have How Are U?, which is BY FAR the best A-side she’s ever released and probably the best song of her entire career. This is an upbeat and extremely catchy song with great vocals and lyrics. The combination of quick acoustics and piano chords is great and I just loved the overall light-hearted nature of the music. Obviously, this is also my favorite song on the album too.

After How Are U?, most of the songs follow suit have a more pop sensibility to them. Paradise is an upbeat acoustic song with a consistent beat and occasional brass. I’m not too fond of the chorus because it repeats over and over, but the verses are great.

The next track is the oddly structured and somewhat sloppy Mirror mirror. The verses are awful because of Arashiro’s funky low pitched vocals but the song somehow transitions into an uplifting chorus that sounds drastically better. The chorus doesn’t go with the rest of the song at all and those verses could have been improved upon to make everything go more smoothly.

This song is also quite strange. Sweet but Empty has an almost whimsical intro that goes into a barrage of electric guitars and fast paced beats. The lyrics are weird too with the comparison of how a person’s fulfillment in life is a like a pie (her life is sweet but empty, get it?!). Anyway, this song is okay but also one of the album’s forgettable tracks too.

The album is almost over but up next is the best ballad she has ever done. Koibumi stomps all of her other ballads and then some. This is a beautiful song, both musically and vocally. The piano and low key strings are wonderful and Arashiro gives a heartbreaking performance. I was so surprised with the amount of emotion within her voice in this song and for me, it’s my favorite of the album’s new tracks. Also, this was the album’s main promotional track.

Unfortunately, ending the album is the English version of No pain, No gain. The original Japanese version was the B-side on the Luna single. I didn’t like the Japanese version so the feeling is mutual with the English version. This song could have been placed somewhere else on the album because it makes for a bad final track. Koibumi would have been much better in my opinion.

GEM is definitely Beni Arashiro’s best album and a huge improvement over her previous two. As a whole, the songs are a lot better and Arashiro’s vocals have improved a great amount since her debut. With the exception of Koibumi, the album does go downhill after How Are U? since the opening tracks are very good. The English version of No pain, No gain was also a bad way to end it too. Everything from BAD GIRL to How Are You? is fantastic and showcase a more aggressive and mature side of her. If you want to try out her music, GEM is the best place to start because it is leagues better than her first two albums Beni and Girl 2 Lady (which were both pretty bad).

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. BAD GIRL
2. Mermaid
3. Losin’ control
4. Loved
5. Luna
6. How Are U?
7. Paradise
8. Mirror mirror
9. Sweet but empty
10. Koibumi (Studio Live Version) (恋文)
11. No pain, No gain (English Version)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

2 Comments »

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  1. Yay!
    I’ve been waiting for this review.
    Looks like I’ll start reviewing the GEM era then.
    As soon as I find the singles and the b-sides.

  2. So does this mean the next Beni review will be her collaboration song with Dohzi-T?


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