Rie fu – URBAN ROMANTIC

May 17, 2009 at 8:44 PM | Posted in Rie fu | 5 Comments
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URBAN ROMANTIC is Rie fu’s 4th album and it was released on April 8, 2009. The album reached #30 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,886 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Opening the album is the quirky and offbeat Something In My Head. This song is in English and features lyrics that introduce the album’s “romantic” theme. The music is filled with constant percussion and shrilly synth, showing off the song’s production value. It’s more involved than most of her other upbeat songs and that’s a good thing to me. I also like that it ends with a random 8-bit explosion sound.

Opening with upbeat bass and piano is Sunny Days. This song is under 3 minutes long so it goes by pretty fast but aside from that, it’s fun and carefree. The music quickly adds a little bit of synth and muffled beats once Rie fu starts singing too.

To me, the next track presented something different from Rie fu. Hey I’m Calling Up! (yes, there’s an exclaimation point at the end lol) features a nice, gritty beat along with other “urban” elements, so it’s good to know that she can experiment outside her comfort zone. Despite the frequent beats, the song maintains a serene aura around it.

Rie fu wants to party, everybody! Business is a cheery song that once again utilizes random synthetic components next to an upbeat electric guitar. The brief instrumental breaks between the singing are interesting and I liked the thudding sounds that were added. This song has a lot of character to it thanks to the lyrics.

Anata wo Omoeba Afureru Namida is more like Rie fu’s typical style but it’s a little less folkish at the same time. The arrangement uses piano during the quiter parts while the aggressive chorus features upbeat acoustics. There are also some random sequences where the music becomes muffled or the sounds of a cityscape come in (how urban of you, Rie fu!). It’s nice to see her being spontaneous for a change.

Ah, Romantic…the song that made a bunch of Rie fu purists throw a huge bitch fit. It’s still her most daring and different sounding song to date and honestly, I want more stuff like it. Produced by Taku Takahashi, the dance-like atmosphere of the music is great and I liked the combination of beats and distorted strings.

What do you expect from a song titled drummy? DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS! I actually think this song is pretty cool and I was digging its overall attitude. The drum and bass arrangement is smooth and Rie fu’s vocals play the part. It gets even better with the extra brass later on too. A stylish song, indeed.

Like Sunny Days, this next track is pretty short. She Can’t Say No ~No to Ienai Onna~is the shortest song on the album, but it’s an interesting listen. Mixing a somber piano with a simple beat, Rie fu sings about a love triangle where nobody can say “no” to each other. The random moment of this song is the sound of a Polaroid camera taking a picture!

Now we have the English version of Money Will Love You, a B-side from the Romantic single. I was hoping Rie fu would change a few things in the music like she did with the English version of decay, but it completely remains the same. Anyway, the song sounds better with the new English lyrics (there is still a verse that’s in Japanese).

I get a rustic, old fashioned feeling from Itsuka Kono Michi no Saki ni ~All The Way~. This song is on the acoustic side minus the breaks between the singing that include electric guitar. To me, this song and Money Will Love You are the most traditional sounding tracks on the album. You could easily see them on ROSE ALBUM or Tobira Album as well.

Next up is the tender ballad PRESENT. I looooove this song and I think it’s very touching, despite being kind of sad. The piano and strings are gorgeous and Rie fu’s vocals are at their best. The unique addition to the song is the strange muffled, yet somewhat inaudible beat.

A soft acoustic track follows and it’s very nice. SUKI is simple but nicely executed. Apart from the dominant acoustics, the very quiet placeholder beat and glittering chimes are a neat addition. I also like the English lyrics in the chorus, further implementing the album’s romantic theme.

For those bitches who complained about Romantic, you can sit down and shut up now. The Strings version removes all the synthetic elements of the original and you instead get a flowing strings section that goes very well with the added piano that now plays the main arrangement. Rie fu also redid the vocals and she sounds great, especially without the layering during the chorus. It’s a fantastic bonus track and if you were wondering what the song would be like without Taku Takahashi’s production, then here you go.

Pfffffft…URBAN ROMANTIC? More like SUBURBAN ROMANTIC. LOLOLOLOL
Sorry, but I just had to make that lame joke. ;D Seriously though, the more I listen to this album, the more it grows on me. I have to give credit to Rie fu trying out some new things for this album because it does contain some surprising material. Rie fu’s music has been orthodox folky pop for the most part, but she’s finally coming out of her shell with URBAN ROMANTIC. Slowly, but surely. I would like to see her branch out some more in the future, but what she’s doing right now is okay with me. The album is a good mix of past and current styles and it would be great if she added upon that for future releases.

Overall Rating

 4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Something In My Head
2. Sunny Days
3. Hey I’m Calling Up!
4. Business (ビジネス)
5. Anata wo Omoeba Afureru Namida (あなたを想えばあふれる涙)
6. Romantic
7. drummy
8. She Can’t Say No ~No to Ienai Onna~ (She Can’t Say No~ノーと言えない女~)
9. Money Will Love You (English version)
10. Itsuka Kono Michi no Saki ni ~All The Way~ (いつかこの道の先に~All The Way~)
11. PRESENT
12. SUKI
13. Romantic (Strings version)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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5 Comments »

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  1. Ah I was waiting for you to review this. I love this album too. :D It’s got good elements of her more traditional style and takes on that urban element which I love. It’s nice and refreshing. Keep up the reviews. (y)

  2. It’s my favourite album of Rie Fu. I love this album. I’m so happy you reviewed it :) Looking forward to more!

  3. Didn’t know if you were accepting recommendations, but this is just so good that I can’t help but hold back. Have you ever listened to Kourin? She’s a new artist, having released an album called Hibi no Uta very recently. She sang for the anime Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou (an ED, and a very good one at that), and in her album she has a track named “Katto” in which she sings with Rie fu and another girl that is familiar to me but I cannot name a the top of my head. (I think you might recognize her.)

    Anyway, Rie fu’s Urban Romantic just reminded me of her, so I had to comment and rec you. (By the way, I agree: it should have been named suburban romantic.)

  4. meh…I totally did not dig this album. T-T
    I still prefer the older Rie fu style, although I have nothing against her new style…it’s just not growing on me.

  5. I really love the direction Rie fu is going, and I love that she’s able to grow and shift as an artist. It was an excellent balance point between what she’s been doing and what she could do. I wouldn’t mind her taking even more chances though.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard the second album, eddy, from delofamilia (the solo project of Naoto from Orange Range) but Rie fu provides all the vocals for it, and it’s fantastic. It’s a very experimental/indie record (also it’s all in english), and while I don’t want Rie fu to go completely in the direction the album takes, I think it would be great for her to take a few tips from some of the things Naoto did in his composition on that album.

    delofamilia’s first album, quiet life, features Eri Nobuchika as the guest vocalist, and is also a pretty grand album.


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