L’Arc-en-Ciel: Awake

Awake, L'Arc-en-Ciel

New World

Lost Heaven

Jyojyoushi

Trust

Killing Me

As One

My Dear

Existence

Jiyuu e no Shoutai

Ophelia

Hoshizora

Twinkle, Twinkle

*****

Songs in bold are previously released singles. Songs in blue (with a link) have already been reviewed. Those songs will, however, be reviewed in context of the album once more.

*****

Awake is L’Arc-en-Ciel’s tenth album, released on June 22nd, 2005. It reached #1 on Oricon and has sold 358 703 copies.

The opening track is the energetic New World (single originally released on April 6th, 2005), which is less mature than the rest of their songs, with the feel of a soft punk song. Although I could state many reasons why this song isn’t really so good, it’s kind of grown on me, especially the vocals.

Lost Heaven is the track that got me interested in them, as it was featured as the ending theme of Fullmetal Alchemist: the Conqueror of Shamballa. The song is fresh, but retains a feel of desperation, which fits with the song’s title. The English refrain was nice (I appreciate Japanese artists who have little of an accent, “Engrish”), and the guitars were great. By far the best album song they’ve ever produced, other than Alone in La Vida from Kiss.

Jyojyoushi (lyrical poem—single originally released on May 18th, 2005) struck me immediately. The title of the song is appropriate, but what I loved about it was Hyde’s amazingly deep voice in the refrain. Jyojyoushi is the best single on this album, although it kind of destroys the arrangement…

Jumping right back into punk, Trust opens with a very The Police-like, soft, repetitive tune (I’m thinking of Every Little Thing She Does). The opening lines are sung in a low tone and coldly by Hyde, and seemed kind of blind, but the rest of the song was a lot better.

Next is their most immature single ever: Killing Me (single originally released on January 13th, 2005) opens with an extremely pop-rock approach, but the song seems to completely change later on, losing the fast, sort of addictive tune it had maintained up to then, with bits of that coming back for the chorus.

As One was too much. The beginning was absolutely horrible, approaching Metallica, and what came after was only a tiny bit better. A very disappointing song.

The next song, My Dear, is totally different. It has a Renaissance-type string instrument playing in the back, and the song seems very bland for the first minute, but it’s actually a beautiful, almost heartbreaking ballad which is almost completely vocal. Great vocal work by Hyde, but this song should’ve come before or after Jyojyoushi.

Existence opens with a guitar being plucked very quickly before it introduces an element of soft metal. Better than As One, but still a poor song.

Jiyuu e no Shoutai (an invitation to freedom—single originally released on June 2nd, 2004) opens with a very nice guitar solo, but kind of disintegrates after such a good song. And Hyde singing very high isn’t that nice. All in all, however, not too bad a song. At least it was enjoyable, not like As One or Existence.

The next track, Ophelia, opens with a piano, adding a saxophone and finally an entire jazz ensemble which seemed kind of weird since jazzy stuff isn’t very L’Arc-en-Ciel, but they executed the song pretty well for a rock group. The band remains very good at slow songs.

Hoshizora (starry night) is a slow song, but very bland compared to My Dear and Ophelia. The song becomes more involved with the beginning of the chorus, but it wasn’t too much of a savior in the end.

The final song on the album finishes things off with an obviously Sting/The Police-inspired song, Twinkle, Twinkle. Frankly, the title turned me off from the beginning, but it wasn’t a bad song. It wasn’t a very inspiring or catchy song, but the chorus was relaxing.

Awake is an eclectic album, no matter what way you look at it. It has a lot of different facets, and that kind of destroyed the very idea that this album would have an arrangement. Well, I suppose they had not many options with singles so very different. The album songs were, for the most part, enjoyable, especially Lost Heaven and My Dear. I don’t really know whether I love or hate this album: the pros are that the songs are really good, but the cons would be that the arrangement really doesn’t inspire anything. Oh well…

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