Crystal Kay – Color Change!September 2, 2008 at 9:52 PM | Posted in Crystal Kay | 15 Comments
The cover of the regular edition
Color Change! is Crystal Kay’s 8th album and it was released on August 6, 2008. The album reached #8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 33,290 copies.
♦ ♦ ♦
I have to admit that Namida no Saki ni makes for a strong album opener because of its robust nature and overall pop sound. The song quickly begins with electric guitar and stern vocals that provide an infectious hook. Crystal Kay’s vocal performance during the chorus hasn’t quite grown on me yet but it’s still pretty catchy nonetheless.
Her latest single, the uplifting R&B and pop tune ONE, follows. I really liked the calming strings mixed with the light beats since they create a gentle ambiance that goes well with the vocals. The song does speed up for the chorus so the music doesn’t stay too laid back.
It’s awesome that there are a lot of new tracks on this album and it’s even better that they showcase a stronger R&B sound as well. The first one is Good Times and it’s very upbeat right from the start with the opening synth riffs and thumping percussion beats that follow. In the end, this is a refreshing party song that has a playful arrangement.
The beginning of Help Me Out just pulls you in thanks to the beats and Crystal Kay’s talking in English. The verses are kind of uninteresting but at least they get instantly overshadowed by a strong chorus. The way she concludes the chorus with English is great and the adlibbing sequences that come right after are vibrant too.
Crystal Kay collaborates with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis once again for two of the album’s new tracks. I definitely remembered her hot English track Kirakuni, but ITOSHIIHITO is quite different from that song. It’s mostly in Japanese and the music is slower but still quite rhythmic with the frequent beats and synth. The chorus does stand out when she repeats itoshii hito over and over but the way she sings that phrase showcases some good vocal range.
There are also two back-to-back ballads on this album but that’s okay because they are both quite impressive. Kaerimichi has a gorgeous arrangement that utilizes some really pretty strings and piano. The inclusion of a light beat and some other pop elements were nice touch too. While the instruments don’t do this, Crystal Kay’s vocals during the chorus actually provide a traditional flair into the song which create this interesting melody of sorts.
The other ballad is Toki no Kakera, which is a little more on the jazzy pop side and it has lovely piano chords with some additional percussion. I did like how the verses transitioned into an absolutely uplifting chorus with matching vocals. This song ends the album’s short, yet really good ballad phase because there are nothing but upbeat tracks up ahead and that’s a really good thing.
The overall ‘feel good’ sound of TIME GOES BY is excellent and I just loved how catchy it was. Crystal Kay shows off more carefree vocals next to a really awesome R&B vibe that I just found to be really bright and fun. This song is definitely one of my favorites from this album.
The other song produced the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is I Can’t Wait, a really interesting track that is almost entirely in English (the slower parts that feature elongated notes are in Japanese). The music definitely has an American sound to it because of some of the elements thrown in like the parts where Crystal Kay says “C to the!” and the male background vocals that go “OHHH!”. I enjoyed how the entire song had this insanely infectious rhythm that just seemed to flow so well with the vocals.
Uh oh, Shining is next! I definitely ripped it a new one back when it was the lead song on the Christmas themed mini-album of the same name. The song isn’t so bad anymore since it fits better within the context of a studio album but I also decided to give it a second chance. The music is still on the generic side but I like the vocals now.
The biggest surprise of this album was by far It’s a crime. Crystal Kay worked with Swedish producers Bloodshy & Avant for this far out and futuristic dance inspired track. It’s also in English and the lyrics are pretty cool too. Bloodshy & Avant have also worked with a lot of other popular artists, most notably Britney Spears, so they’re pretty well known. I do have to say that the production value of It’s a crime is amazing and I think it’s the first song by her to dominantly feature computerized vocals.
Concluding the album is History, another unique track from Crystal Kay. The arrangement is kind of offbeat thanks to the various instruments that are involved but it works in the end. The electric guitars and low key strings in the background stood out the most for me and they can be heard throughout the entire song. This is a great ending track because it closes the album in a strong and dignified manner.
Color Change! was a fantastic way for Crystal Kay to show off a more refined side of her and it’s a step up from her previous album ALL YOURS. As a whole, it has a variety of sounds or ‘colors’ that fit into a central theme. The new tracks are what make this album so good and it was great to hear a more prominent R&B sound because the singles obviously didn’t do that. It looks like Color Change! might be the first step into something even greater because the album represents her graduation from college and her ‘change’ in musical style. There’s also news about an upcoming debut in the United States so I’ll be hoping for that too.
1. Namida no Saki ni (涙のさきに)
3. Good Times
4. Help Me Out
6. Kaerimichi (帰り道)
7. Toki no Kakera (トキノカケラ)
8. TIME GOES BY
9. I Can’t Wait
11. It’s a crime
Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!