Mai – MAISELF

November 30, 2006 at 6:25 PM | Posted in Mai | Leave a comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

MAISELF is Mai’s solo debut album and it was released on September 6, 2006. The album reached #38 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,114 copies.

Looking at the cover, it’s safe to say that Mai is finally wearing clothes, but she’s really not. It’s actually body paint so the only thing that she’s wearing are the roller skates. It’s quite a creative, yet naughty cover. =D

♦ ♦ ♦

The album opens with Reborn, Mai’s debut single as a solo artist. The most notable thing about this song are her electronically distorted vocals, which makes the song have a futuristic feel. It’s very appropriate as the first track.

Now we move on to what is the best new track on the album. It’s a little luck features a very catchy chorus and nice techno beats. I also like the fading vocals and synth at the beginning and end of the song too.

The next track is a little boring in my opinion. However, Mai’s vocals in Precious moment are nicely done, but don’t save this song from its lazy synth arrangement.

Track 4 is another personal favorite of mine on the album. Rosy Rosa Lollipop opens with strong beats and then some acoustic guitar. I think the chorus is completely in English but it’s kind of hard to understand.

The next track is Mai’s 3rd single. Princess ∞ Candy is a little more pop influenced than her other 2 singles.

I got a little bit annoyed by the repetitive music of track 6, Bye Bye Blues. It’s continuous and doesn’t really change it all at any point which makes the song sound really monotonous.. I like the English vocals of the chorus though.

Track 7 is the most sensual song on the album. Here we go again has a better sound than the other album tracks. The distorted background vocals are a nice addition to the song too.

Track 8 is the cutesy pop ballad of the album. Sincerely yours has a nice chorus, except for the screeching high notes.

Track 9 is my favorite song on the album. It’s also Mai’s best song as a solo artist PERIOD. Eyes was also her 2nd single. 

The final track, Te wo Tsunagou, begins with calm low pitched vocals from Mai and a soothing string arrangement. When the chorus arrives, the song becomes an upbeat mix of pop and techno. It’s a good way to end the album because this is one of the better tracks.

On the CD only edition, the Moushiwake Single MEGA MIX appears as a bonus track. It features most of her A-sides and B-sides and they are clumped together to form a hectic 5 minute mashup. It features the following songs in this order: RainbowPrincess ∞ Candy, Reborn, Eyes, and Squair. As you can see, one B-side was left out and that was Moon Tears.

There was only one problem I had with this album. The singles are excellent, but the new album tracks are somewhat disappointing. You can easily tell how refined and polished the single tracks are just by listening to the overall BGM. Reborn and Eyes are easily the best songs on the album because they are the only ones with a true electronica sound. I also wished Mai added the B-sides from her singles to add some variety. Squair and Rainbow would have been excellent editions. All in all, this is an okay album. Mai can REALLY do better with her new style of music and I hope her next releases feature stronger beats and more electronica and trance influences.

Overall Rating

3 stars

Tracklisting

1. Reborn
2. It’s a little luck
3. Precious moment
4. Rosy Rosa Lollipop
5. Princess ∞ Candy
6. Bye Bye Blues (バイバイ・ブルース)
7. Here wo go again
8. Sincerely yours
9. Eyes
10. Te wo Tsunagou (手をつなごう)
11. Moushiwake Single MEGA MIX (申し訳 Single MEGA MIX) [CD only bonus track]

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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Mai – Princess ∞ Candy

September 1, 2006 at 6:22 PM | Posted in Mai | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Princess ∞ Candy
2. Moon Tears
3. Princess ∞ Candy (Instrumental)
4. Moon Tears (Instrumental)

This is Mai’s 3rd single and it was released on August 16, 2006. The single reached #159 on the Oricon Weekly Charts. The title track was used as the theme song for the drama Kaikan Shokunin.

Compared to her two previous singles, Princess ∞ Candy is definitely more of a pop song. The techno beats aren’t as strong and song focuses more on Mai’s voice. Speaking of her voice, there are no electronic distortions in her voice at all, the first for a Mai A-side. I don’t think the song is really that special but overall, it’s well done.

The B-side, Moon Tears, is a slow ballad. Mai’s vocals sound kind of bland during the verses but quickly gain momentum during the chorus and especially during the bridge (the best part of the song). The arrangement is just simple piano and strings, but they turn out really nice.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Mai – Eyes

August 22, 2006 at 6:19 PM | Posted in Mai | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Eyes
2. Rainbow
3. Eyes (Instrumental)
4. Rainbow (Instrumental)

This is Mai’s 2nd solo single and it was released on April 12, 2006. The single reached #41 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,267 copies.

Eyes is an energetic dance song with strong beats and smooth vocals. I’m glad to say that the electronic distortions in her voice are minimal and nearly not as bad as in her debut single Reborn. The second verse is my favorite part because the song quiets down and you can clearly hear Mai’s voice. The ending of the song is quite nice because of the strong use of synth.

The B-side, Rainbow, is the complete opposite of the previous song. This song is very reminscent of her music when she was in Ruppina. It’s very laid back with a gorgeous piano and string arrangement and there is no electronic distortion in Mai’s voice at all so you can actually enjoy listening to her vocal performance. Her English during the bridge isn’t half-bad for a native Japanese singer:

No matter how far the rainbow is, you can guide yourself through the storm. Never let them take away your dream, be the one to rise up and shine

Overall Rating

5 stars

Mai – Reborn

August 14, 2006 at 6:10 PM | Posted in Mai | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Reborn
2. Squair
3. Reborn (Instrumental)
4. Squair (Instrumental)

This is Mai’s debut single and it was released on December 7, 2005. The single reached #28 on the Oricon Weekly Charts. The first track was used as the opening theme for the XBox 360 game [em] -eNCHANT arM- (Enchanted Arms overseas) and the second track was the ending theme.

Before I begin this review, I want to post some background information on Mai. Her real name is Mai Kudou and she was the former vocalist of the short lived avex group Ruppina.

When Mai was the vocalist of Ruppina, she mainly performed pop ballads (their most well known songs were free will, violet flow, and FAITH) so this single was a complete change for me. Reborn is a TECHNO song that combines pop and electronica. Mai has done techno before (she collaborated with Cyber X) but this song was really surprising because of the vocals. Her vocals are so electronically distorted that they don’t sound natural at all, but after a few listens, I really began to like this song. I’m just used to her Ruppina songs but I’m open for change.

The vocals in the next track, Squair, are not distorted (thank goodness). You can actually listen to and appreciate Mai’s voice because it IS pretty amazing. This song is more laid back and features strings and percussion. It’s a worthy B-side.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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