04 February 2015

Nakayama Yuma - Chapter 1 RE album review


Artist: Nakayama Yuma
Title: Chapter 1
Release date:  26 NOV 2014
Type: album
Version: regular edition

Packaging: This has rather basic packaging all around. The booklet has a few photos of Yuma placed between white pages of song lyrics and that is about it. The only bonus was a card that you could use for an event if you got another release, so for someone not living in Japan that was completely useless.

Tracks:

1. High Five
Not going to review this again as I did so already when I reviewed the single. That said I think this works well as an opening song as it does start things off with some energy that leads in well into the following track.

2. 交差点 (Kousaten)
Rather surprised that this was the track decided to be the lead track for the album as it is probably one of the weakest. Sure there is nothing I would consider to be bad about it other than it comes off as a bit bland to me. It is a more laid back song and Yuma sounds good in it but there is nothing there that really hooks me though there are a couple of moments that it comes almost close to doing so. But even then it is a song that I still like just not as much as some of the other songs on the album.

3. XOXO (キスハグ) (XOXO (Kiss Hug))
A fun energetic dance pop piece that is one of my favorite tracks from the album. The laid back verses that build up to the catchy chorus work so well. Especially as the verses cut back on the instrumental at points to let Yuma's voice take front and center. Plus it has a nice break that uses strings to slow things down just to jump right back into the chorus for a strong finish.

4. Missing Piece
This was the song that really made me take notice of Yuma and decide to follow his solo music career. I love the dark and mysterious sound it has from the start and that it is one of the songs that Yuma's voice never seems to be overpowered by the music. It has a nice driving beat that follows the song from the start to the end that gives it an added sense of urgency. I fell in love with this song with the first listen and I am still completely in love with it, as it remains my favorite Yuma song.

5. 舞い、恋 (Mai, Koi)
A slower song that works just so well to follow up from Missing Piece. There is this sense of sad longing in this song that I just love. Yuma seems to do these songs rather well so I am glad we have one for an album track. The use of more instruments over electronic beats is a no brainer here but does so much to help make this track stand out.

6. アイオライト (Aioraito)
This is just a fun and catchy pop song. The verses are laid back and work well to compliment the more vibrant chorus that kicks things up a notch and is what really makes this song so much fun to listen to. It puts me in a good mood whenever I listen to it and is one of my favorite tracks.

7. 僕たちのbirthday (Bokutachi no Birthday)
This song slows things down again a bit but keeps it light and poppy. It is a sweet sounding song that does a great job of building to the chorus where there is a nice swell of music to start it off to then drop off to go more tender before moving into the next verse. While not one of my favorite tracks on the album it is definitely a strong one and I do enjoy it still quite a bit.

8. おやすみ (Oyasumi)
The first bonus track for the regular edition. A rather straightforward pop song but it fits so well next to Bokutachi no Birthday with both using string instruments prominently. Though Oyasumi is more electronic overall with its instruments but that does make it a decent bridge song between Bokutachi no Birthday and Hustler. I would probably place this song on the same level as Bokutachi no Birthday, I like and enjoy it well enough but there are other songs on this album that I love much more.

9. Hustler
Honestly I am surprised that this was a bonus track for the regular edition as it is probably one of the more stand out tracks on this album. Of course I will confess that I did not care for it with the first few listens but it grew on me big time and has become one of my favorite songs off the album. And it goes so well with the following track with them both being dance pop. I really want to know what the sound is that starts and ends the track as it is unique and really makes the track stand out. And the chorus of this song is so catchy. I still cannot get over the fact I did not like the song with the first listen considering it is one of my favorites now.

10. Get Up!
Like High Five I am not going to bother reviewing this track again. It is a good fit after Hustler though and helps continue the strong streak of songs on the album started with that one.

11. 悪魔な恋 album ver. (Akuma na Koi album ver.)
This is basically Akuma na Koi as a solo song, which honestly it was originally but this takes out all the harmonies that B.I.Shadow did in the original song. In fact that is probably one of the biggest changes for this version is that there is little in the way of harmonies so it really focuses on Yuma's voice. And that works well if you want to compare how much Yuma's voice has changed since he originally sang this in his mid-teens. I really wish Johnny's would create new versions of older songs for groups that have lost members or had members that have had their voices change drastically like this as I love being able to compare the versions. Plus with Akuma na Koi it is a really nice slow song that I have loved since I heard the original version so I have no issues of having more versions of it to listen to.

12. 奇跡、見つけに (Kiseki, Mitsukeni)
The third and final bonus track for the regular edition. It has a simple and slow start with the opening verse but then you get to the chorus and there is a grand flourish of music that makes the track start to stand out. It took a few listens but the track has grown on me and it is really the chorus that won me over. Though the simple verses really help make it stand out with the contrast it creates. But every time in the chorus when Yuma reaches the part of the lyrics that is the title of the song it just has this grand feeling to it

13. In The Name of LOVE
This song starts off strong from the first note before pulling back for the initial verse. One of the slower songs on the album but closer to mid-tempo then anything else. It also has plenty of instrumental flourishes to give it an epic-esque feel and makes sure the album ends on a high note. Really a nice strong track and I like that this album decided to end on something like that and not one of the ballads.


Overall: Honestly I kinda feel like Yuma is the hidden gem of Johnny's. As a solo act he does not get too much promotion and is probably looked over as he really does not have a mega popular drama attached to his name. But overall his music releases have been steady and he is able to keep busy with being one of the main PLAYZONE actors in recent years. I hope he continues to have a decent career for a good long time.

The bonus tracks for the regular edition are well worth it. Hustler is great and Kiseki, Mitsukeni is really good as well with Oyasumi also being a solid track. Even the songs I do not love I still like and enjoy and of course the songs I do love I completely adore. This album is great and if you have liked any of Yuma's solo songs I would recommend it. I look forward to whatever he releases in the future, especially his next album if it ends up anything like this one.

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