(don’t) Leave me alone
talkin’ 2 myself
Marionette – prelude –
The Judgement Day
untitled – for her –
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.
GUILTY is Ayumi Hamasaki’s ninth studio album, released on January 1st, 2008. It reached #2 on Oricon, and has sold 568 288 copies. It is her first album not to reach #1.
Opening the album is the fabulous Mirror, a powerhouse of a song. The best part of this song was, for me, the drums which give this album a unique feel. This may be Ayumi’s worst album from a ranking point of view, but it’s probably her best. And there really is no better way to open an album then this kind of a memorable two-minute introduction.
Introducing us to the albums more aggressive sound, (don’t) Leave me alone features some powerful synth along with an electric-guitar based tune. As previously said, this is a song which really sets the mood, and introduces this album as Ayumi’s most unique so far.
Her most aggressive single yet, talkin’ 2 myself confirms any suspicions of a really dark album with influences of metal music. Beside alterna, this is one of her best ventures into rock.
decision follows in the original order of the single. This was a good choice since they are two very similar songs, but at different dynamic levels.
I had previously explained that Ayumi’s title tracks aren’t particularly good, or at least aren’t the best part of the album. And that’s the case with GUILTY. It has a few common points with talkin’ 2 myself, but the gritty guitars and the very deep tone of this set it apart from the latter. It gets us ready for the next track, which is far more low-key than the two previous ones.
fated was present along with glitter to us as one of Ayumi’s greatest mistakes, but in the album it sounds many times better. The low vocals still remind me a lot of HEAVEN, but in this context, it’s a good thing.
Released as a digital download before the release of this album, Together When… is a heartfelt ballad. This song also has a few common points with HEAVEN, although the more powerful instrumentals make it sound a bit different, especially the guitar during the chorus. It’s one of my favorite songs on this album.
Before we get to the next track, we are treated to a little prelude, Marionette – prelude –. And when I say this song is creepy, I mean it’s creepier than Kanon Wakeshima’s still doll. It’s pretty much your typical horror movie-type orgel, but it makes you feel nervous and insecure with the elevating level of tension.
The actual song, Marionette, sort of continues the whole horror movie-type music, but with more oriental influences. Everyone really likes this song, and although I, too, like this song, I don’t think it’s the best song. I think the chorus is too outgoing for it’s own good, and seems to come out of nowhere after a very, very silent verse. But still a good song.
We come to the second of three interludes, The Judgement Day. Whereas Marionette – prelude – had the freaky attribute, this song has the whole religious, prayer-type epic thing going for it, and a really fast, techno-inspired section toward the end which I thought would’ve made a great full track.
Bizarrely enough though, next are the two happy songs on this album. As much as I try to like it, glitter still sounds horrible to my ears. And why it was even placed on this album, since it sort of destroys the atmosphere, I don’t know.
MY ALL, although a joyous song, does have more dark side-notes. It’s pretty much a filler between glitter and the next two tracks, because without this buffer-song, it would’ve sounded pretty weird. I prefer this type of joy far more to the summer-song Ayumi-type pop without looking back, or forward.
reBiRTH sounds a lot like a Sting or The Police track taken and made a little bit spookier to fit with the context. But don’t get me wrong, I actually like this song, especially when the oriental violins come in.
Closing the album is a gentle ballad, and a sort of letter to her dead friend, untitled – for her –. Although you’d expect a very sad song, Ayumi dishes up a far more joyous song, more of a “we will remember” rather than a “I can’t live without you” song, if you see what I mean. I really like what she did with this song, and I have to compliment her on some really nice lyrics.
GUILTY was indeed a form of guilty pleasure. The arrangement was virtually flawless, even though the ending was sort of sloppy. The message of this album, beginning with the dark (don’t) Leave me alone and talkin’ 2 myself, and then ending with the half-happy untitled – for her –, is, melodically, that although there will be pain in everyone’s life, the positive ending everyone waits for will come. Ayumi’s best, most brilliant and meaningful. Although “Guilty” might just apply to those godawful nails. (笑)