hitomi – LOVE LIFE 2

July 25, 2009 at 11:30 PM | Posted in hitomi | 2 Comments
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The cover of the CD only edition

LOVE LIFE 2 is hitomi’s 9th album and it was released on June 24, 2009. The album reached #27 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,482 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

If you’re wondering about the title, this album is the ~spiritual successor~ to her 2000 album LOVE LIFE, which had a similar cover. It was originally titled “REBIRTH” as well. Anyway, it opens with Just You, a song that showcases hitomi’s orthodox pop / rock sound. The verses have simple acoustics but things pick up during the chorus when electric guitars come in. For an opening track, it didn’t really grab me since nothing much happens musically.

WORLD! WIDE! LOVE!, the only physical single off this album, has been altered a bit but I don’t like the new changes in this new version. The music is the same as the original but the vocals now have an electronic tinge to them. Next to hitomi’s original vocals, there is an annoying auto-tune filter that overlaps it. To be honest, it’s completely unnecessary and just a royal pain. I’ll be sticking with the original this time.

The next track was supposed to be released as a single but was cancelled in favor of WORLD! WIDE! LOVE!. That’s a shame because Sagashi Tsuzuketeta Mono is pretty good and one of the album’s best tracks. The music is slower paced and has the characteristics of a ballad. There are nice instrumental sections with piano and strings that blend in with the electric guitar chords. I liked the chorus the most since it features strong vocals from hitomi and flowing strings. The bridge is also another highlight.

Here’s a rock song that is actually exciting, unlike that uneventful first track. Eternal☆Sunshine has bright, yet aggressive guitars and an upbeat rhythm with no breaks in between. On top of that, the song is short and sweet, but also pretty satisfying. Overall, it’s fun and enjoyable.

Another upbeat song follows but it’s a little more on the acoustic side. Tabidachi Fuku Kaze is nicely done but what stood out the most was the bridge. The guitar chords change to have a reggae-like rhythm so I liked what I was hearing. The rest of this breezy song is pretty normal though.

Opening with what sounds like a telephone call and then thumping drums is MEMORY, which continues the album’s string of cheery songs. Those screeching guitar riffs are present but I really liked those drums more. They are just so strong and robust in this song.

Originally released as a digital single way back in August 2008, Fight for Your Run☆ makes an appearance on the album. It’s similar to the last 3 tracks but the music has more attitude and spunk. hitomi is also singing Catch you now! Take my mind! in the chorus but I still have no idea what “fight for your run” means.

Showcasing that retro inspired sound of hitomi’s previous album LOVE CONCENT is Hello-Good bye!. From the melody, vocals, and use of electric guitars, the song just screams the 50s and 60s. I don’t have any gripes though since hitomi pulls it off very nicely and the arrangement is pleasant. This song also marks a turning point in the album’s musical direction.

Beat☆ is pretty different from what we’ve been hearing so far. There’s no aggressive rock here but instead a carefree acoustic pop sound. Next to the guitars, there is a steady clapping beat with catchy background vocals. The chorus also has a good hook with the If you wanna go to paradise line.

I really like Kokoro no Sougen so I’m glad that it’s on the album. Filled with cheerful brass and percussion, it’s personally one of my favorite songs. hitomi never seems to disappoint when it comes to retro styled pop in my opinion. This song originally appeared as the B-side on the WORLD! WIDE! LOVE! single.

Ending the album in an appropriate fashion is VISION ~Don’t Stop The EARTH~. Being a rockish ballad, it features a sweeping chorus with uplifting vocals. To me, this was one of the album’s more memorable songs and it definitely delivers as the final track. The album ends on a positive note as the song fades out.

You know what they say: sequels are never as good as the first one! ;DD I know that’s a lame joke, but it kind of applies here. LOVE LIFE 2 isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as her previous albums either (huma-rhythm and LOVE CONCENT instantly come to mind). It honestly took me multiple listens to start getting into this album because it didn’t leave a big impression on me at first. Actually, it still doesn’t but there were some songs that I really liked. In LOVE LIFE 2, I thought most of the songs were pretty normal for hitomi’s standards but there were some exceptions like Hello-Good bye! and Beat☆ that mixed things up. At least the album as a whole isn’t monotone and boring so that’s a plus. In the end, you do get some interesting material that’s on the same level as hitomi’s previous efforts.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Just You
2. WORLD! WIDE! LOVE! (Chikyuu ni Umarete Yokatta ver.)
      WORLD! WIDE! LOVE! (チキュウニウマレテヨカッタver.)
3. Sagashi Tsuzuketeta Mono (探し続けてたもの)
4. Eternal☆Sunshine (エターナル☆サンシャイン)
5. Tabidachi ni Fuku Kaze (旅立ちに吹く風)
6. MEMORY
7. Fight for Your Run☆
8. Hello-Good bye!
9. Beat☆
10. Kokoro no Sougen (ココロの草原)
11. VISION ~Don’t Stop The EARTH~

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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hitomi – WORLD! WIDE! LOVE!

June 11, 2009 at 4:14 PM | Posted in hitomi | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. WORLD! WIDE! LOVE!
2. Kokoro no Sougen (ココロの草原)
3. WORLD! WIDE! LOVE! (instrumental)
4. Kokoro no Sougen (instrumental)

This is hitomi’s 33rd single and it was released on May 20, 2009. The single reached #119 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 645 copies.

It’s been well over 2 years since hitomi has released anything new but she’s finally returned from her hiatus! On the plus side, she has rebounded with a great single. WORLD! WIDE! LOVE! shows off that pop rock sound that hitomi does very well so it’s a high quality A-side. Even though I liked the “retro” phase as heard in her previous album LOVE CONCENT, I prefer when she dabbles into rock. In any case, I’m glad she’s back.

With its upbeat big brass arrangement, I really enjoyed Kokoro no Sougen. This is a fun song and I think it’s just as good as the A-side. hitomi’s vocals are cheery and she sings with a lot of enthusiasm as well. The chorus is my favorite part since it’s very catchy and features faster brass and percussion. Along with a new version of the A-side, this song will appear on her upcoming album LOVE LIFE 2.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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