Tomiko Van – Van.

January 8, 2009 at 10:28 AM | Posted in Tomiko Van | 5 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Van. is Tomiko Van’s 2nd studio album and it was released on December 10, 2008. The album reached #28 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 8,852 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Opening the album is Tomiko Van’s first official single as a solo artist. Flower is very upbeat and shows off the great pop rock sound that most of the album has. What stands out the most for me in this song is the chorus because of Van’s bright vocals.

Technically, there are only 4 new full-length songs on the album and the first one to appear is my favorite. Utopia is a charming song that mixes constant beats with short electric guitar riffs. I love the chorus and even though it comes off as simple at first, I find it extremely lively and infectious as well. It should have been a single instead of Tokyo Biyori. XD

The next track is manacles, a song that is kind of old. It has been around since early 2007 but only as an edited version that appears on the soundtrack for the anime Reideen (it was the opening theme). Luckily, the full version is on the album. The song has an edgy jazz vibe thanks to the rhythm and I was kind of surprised upon the first listen. It’s like a more upbeat take of the jazz tracks on her debut solo FAREWELL so I liked what I was hearing.

Along with the singles, 2 B-sides were included on the album. I’m pretty sure that Brave, from the Flower single, was chosen over the others because it had a tie-in with a video game. That’s okay though because the song is pretty good nonetheless. I like the epic factor of the music and how it accumulates in sound, especially during the great bridge sequence.

Yumeji still remains as my favorite A-side from Van. It’s a gorgeous acoustic based ballad with strong vocals and uplifting lyrics. Van sings with a good amount of emotion that ranges from the calm verses to the powerful chorus. The song may be over 2 years old, but I still can’t get enough of it.

The most aggressive songs on the album are up next and this brings us to carry out, a song that is absolutely hectic. There is so much going on but its instrumental sections are just plain far out. The music includes strong electric guitars, blaring drums, and various strange synth riffs. Van’s vocals are distorted in the verses too. The arrangement is certainly jumbled up in certain places but it works out in the end. Speaking of the ending, it’s abrupt since the song just stops with a single drum beat.

After that track is the hard-hitting Senkou. Along with carry out, it’s by far one of her most rockish songs to date and I think it stands out compared to most of the album. There is a dark quality to the music thanks to the sweeping electric guitars and Van’s powerful vocals. The ending is still my favorite part of the song, as it just seems to crash in a flurry of screeching riffs.

The next two tracks were from her latest single and the only ones on the album that I don’t really care for. I can understand message., from Tokyo Biyori single, being included because it’s the first song she wrote by herself but I honestly find it uninteresting. The arrangement is pleasant at best but there could have been more.

Tokyo Biyori has grown on me…a little. It’s still her weakest A-side but it does have its moments. It’s the most laid back song on the album because of its lethargic acoustic arrangement that features steady drums, guitars, and strings. If there is a notable aspect of the song, it would be the chorus simply because it’s the most exciting part.

The album is almost over but the ending tracks are stellar. If Brave and Yumeji were one song, it would be Refrain. If I didn’t like Utopia so much this would definitely be my favorite of the album’s new tracks. The song is a uplifting rock ballad that starts off slow but builds up into a wonderful chorus. I love how Van begins the chorus by singing “Are you ready to fly?” with very nice vocals too.

I thought it was interesting for Van to end the album with an instrumental. I wish Van. was a full-length song because this instrumental is really pretty. It’s relaxing, ambient, and provides closure for the album, especially since it’s right after the excellent Refrain. The use of a Celtic woodwind instrument further in was a great touch as well. My personal interpretation of this song is that it could possibly be a signal that her solo career has come to an end since Do As Infinity is back together.

I have to admit that Van. is actually pretty good, but it was long overdue. I think it’s a solid album that only has some minor flaws. I wish there more tracks for instance, considering a good amount of the album comprises really old material that was released in 2006. The new tracks are fantastic though, especially Utopia and Refrain, so it’s not all that bad. Compared to her debut solo album FAREWELL, I think Van. is on the same level in terms of consistency and style. This album focuses mainly on pop rock songs instead of the jazzy tunes heard in FAREWELL too. I guess it’s safe to say that her solo career will be on hold because Do As Infinity will be releasing new material in the spring so I am really looking forward to that. In the meantime, Van. might curb your appetite.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Flower
2. Utopia
3. manacles
4. Brave
5. Yumeji (夢路)
6. carry out
7. Senkou (閃光)
8. message.
9. Tokyo Biyori (東京日和)
10. Refrain
11. Van.

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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5 Comments »

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  1. lol utopia is my fav too and the chorus just does it for me soooooooo much and i’m not even a Tomiko van fan.

  2. i LOVED VAN.

    i thought this album was way better then farewell… farewell… i only liked maybe four songs =/ which is kinda … ehhh… lol but this one i enjyoed alot. i enjoyed everyone except for tokyo biyori… i did not like that song AT ALL… as much as a tried to enjoy it. lol.

    but good job ban chan ^_^ and very happy to hear DAI is coming back together ^_^V

  3. Don’t you mean ‘curb you appetite’? lol. Otherwise, great review!! ^___^

  4. I enjoyed the album, though I didn’t love it. I must admit I’m MUCH more excited about the DAI reunion!!! 8o OMG!

  5. Tomiko Van, If I could only somehow express what her songs mean to me I would cry right now, I love her music, I love her swongs so much that I brought a new computer and named it after her for her name sake….LOVE 4 TOMIKO VAN…


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