Utada Hikaru – Fantôme | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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Took me quite a while, but finally, my review for Utada Hikaru‘s new album Fantôme is online, on English website Electric Bloom Webzine.

I thought this was a pretty solid record. Not your typical pop collection of songs (there’s a lot of sadness and melancholy, but also a bit of joy), and it has a few flaws here and there… but still, it’s a good and very enjoyable record. Not the new Deep River, nor her new-era masterpiece, but definitely a good record that Hikki’s fans will enjoy.

The reason why I reviewed it two weeks after its release, is because both this record and me needed time. Time to absorb these songs and avoid a rushed judgement, like most headlines out there are apparently doing: I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints, framed by words like “boring”, “uninspired” and even “useless”. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions of course, but the feeling is that many journalists and bloggers jumped on the “bash Hikki to look pro” bandwagon just cause it’s cool. Whatever…

Read my review of Fantôme on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Here’s my review. Hope you enjoy it, and be sure to let me know what you think about it! There’s no score, but i’d give it a 8 / 10.

There’s a new article and a review coming here on my blog this weekend, so be sure to stay tuned!

Take care.

– Alex

Utada Hikaru’s comeback is a convincing one: Impressions on “Manatsu no Tooriame”

The time has finally come: Utada Hikaru, singer, songwriter, and one of the most successful Japanese artists ever, is finally back from her six-years long hiatus today, with two new digital singles that instantly topped the iTunes chart. That’s right, we finally have the chance to listen to her new songs Hanataba wo Kimi ni and Manatsu no Tooriame.

I’m not even talking about Hanataba wo Kimi ni that much: I can tell you that the track is nice, but not outstanding either, and that Hikki’s vocals are always on point as you would expect. If you’re a fan, you’re gonna like it in its simplicity. That’s it.

What I definitely want to talk about though, is Manatsu no TooriameThis track brings back the Hikki I loved in that masterpiece called Sakura Nagashi, and despite not aiming at the same emotional levels of the Evangelion track, it still gets pretty close to it, despite more friendly vocal lines and a generally linear approach. Behind its apparent simplicity, Manatsu no Tooriame is indeed a beautiful melancholic piece and a remarkable comeback for Utada: Most of the track is basically a voice/piano duo that focuses on Hikki’s outstanding interpretation, that evolves towards the end with a dramatic arrangement, in a nice crescendo that gives a good emphasis to the track. What’s most admirable (and it comes as no surprise) is Hikki’s capacity of conveying feelings through her voice: I have no problem in saying I cried listening to this track, despite having no idea of what she was saying. I’m like that.

The track gains even more pathos if paired with its wonderful Music Video, that shows slices of different lives and moments, framed by an impressive care for details and an excellent direction: It pictures the simplest moments and things in a unique and emotional way, with a truly outstanding artistic result.

Utada Hikaru’s comeback is a convincing one: The emotional and beautiful Manatsu no Tooriame makes up for the nice yet unimpressive Hanataba wo Kimi ni, and nothing can be considered bad or disappointing here. The best thing I was happy to notice, is that Hikki is in great shape and more than ready to start a new chapter of her career. And I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.

– Alex