Ending this year with his first album release, Namikawa presents us Elements, his first album following up his single Recollection that was released this past summer. With all this said let’s hope this album is also as good or even better than his previous work. Without further ado let’s get this review started.
Album: Elements Release date: 03/12/14 Label: Kiramune/Lantis Genre: J-pop/rock
HURRICANE ROCK STAR
ファンキー☆ウェーブ (FUNKY WAVE)
OVER AND OVER
Track by track analysis:
1- COLORLESS SKY
Kicking off this album Colorless Sky sounds fresh and with a completely different vibe from his usual, Namikawa went out of his comfort zone providing us with lots of electronica elements and synths that will make one want to dance. While his songs usually start right at the beginning with the instrumental and himself, this time we have an interlude until we reach the actual singing part of the track. It’s a very unlike choice to start off this album but nevertheless innovative if we think about new elements incorporated into the track, like those synths and synthetic drums that we can listen to on the solo. Colorless Sky is only lacking the guitar that usually makes his tracks more rock oriented, turning out to be a pretty unexpected yet good track. 4.5/5
2-HURRICANE ROCK STAR
Taking a complete different road HURRICANE ROCK STAR is rock oriented and with all the instruments that weren’t incorporated in the previous track. If we have to nominate an instrument that really stands out in the whole instrumental piece we have to say it is the bass that completely rocks the song. HURRICANE ROCK STAR‘s solo is completely ruled by the bass. The guitar is in “solo mode” throughout the whole song and although it is a good addition to the track itself the instrumental can be a little bit repetitive, which is a let down. 3.5/5
3- PANTO SAAKASU
PANTO SAAKASU shows us yet another facet of Namikawa. The synths make us think that we’re actually playing an old-school 1D game plus the guitars that were incorporated on the instrumental piece and the once again extremely perceptible bass. Somehow we manage to have a guitar solo out of nowhere. PANTO SAAKASU is almost a parody song which can be fun to listen to but it isn’t particularly good, besides its instrumental is really wearing because we don’t have any developments on it making it seem like a really disorganized circus. 3.5/5
RUN kicks off with a instrumental piece completely different from the other tracks in the album, with a piano, bass and guitar. Making one almost forget the two previous songs we have one more befitting of Namikawa. The chorus of this track has a really good instrumental that is refreshing, drums that keep changing the tempo and the acoustic guitar turn RUN into a pretty amazing song. This is the type of track that we did not find in Namikawa’s repertoire up until now. Excellent track and probably one of the best in the album. 4.5/5
5- ファンキー☆ウェーブ (FUNKY WAVE)
FUNKY WAVE, as the name claims, is completely out of normal, not only is Namikawa singing in a traditional way like enka but the instrumental is also like that of a traditional song but not for too long because we then have the modern part of this song. Returning to a more electronica and danceable instrumental don’t let yourselves be fooled because that’ll be the only change, Namikawa will still be singing in a traditional way. Shuffling between the modern and tradition FUNKY WAVE has a lot of individuality. 4/5
6- Over and Over
Starting of with a more subtle touch we have Over and Over that has synths making some remember some tracks created by Elements Garden, especially the ones from Uta no Prince-sama. This track’s instrumental has a little bit more speed than the previous ones but it wasn’t a bad choice. The drums, synths and piano make the instrumental piece of this track into a happier song. The guitar that is perceptible here and there despite not being very highlighted is a very good addition the track itself. 4/5
7- ドレスコード (DRESSCODE)
DRESSCODE is a more classy song living up to its name. Once again it has the extremely perceptible bass but also the saxophone’s that’s making this track into one with an instrumental piece that somehow makes one remember Christmas which is kind of appropriate given the time of year we’re in. Yet out of nowhere we have a guitar solo that is melodic but still great. 4/5
8- いてくれるだけで (ITEKURERUDAKEDE)
Now we have a ITEKURERUDAKEDE that turns out to be a ballad with a beautiful piano and melodic guitar. The slow tempo of this track is simply perfect to the instrumental and to help bringing out the vocal potential of Namikawa. Violins that then joined the instrumental make this track complete with all the elements to make this song into a pretty good one, but the melodic guitar solo is the cherry on top of the cake. 4.5/5
RECOLLECTION kicks off in the rockiest way possible. The explosive, strong guitar riffs kicking off the track, together with the unstoppable drums lead the way in this song. But let’s not fully focus on the basic rock formation, the piano also shines in its way in the chorus, not so much in the initial or mid verses where it is almost overshadowed by the rest of the instrumental piece, but it definitely shines in the chorus. The acoustic guitar that one can only notice if paying necessary attention to the background elements is also a surprise in this song, and surprisingly enough is was a good addition to the instrumental, making the whole song blend well together. Namikawa‘s vocal abilities have also shown some improvement, a good proof of that is his quick change between high and low notes without being off key. The buildup before the outro is very strong, especially the work behind the guitar. Overall the instrumental piece, most especially the chorus, is completely addicting. 4.5/5
To see full review of the single Recollection.
With Elements we reach the end of this album in a bit more “rock-ish” way to change the pace, but we still have those synths on the background. The instrumental of this track is almost like a mix between RUN and DRESSCODE with the rock instrumental and the Christmas-like instruments that make Elements sound good. This track is the most appropriate to close this album. 4/5
This first album by Namikawa was not bad at all and had lots of new songs, actually some pretty good ones like RUN that was more rock oriented but changed a little the flow of the album given the thought that the first track COLORLESS SKY was more electronica oriented but we must no forget that ITEKURERUDAKEDE was a good surprise because we could not imagine he would sing a ballad but it actually turned out pretty good, the same cannot be said to all the tracks tough. Tracks like HURRICANE ROCK STAR or PASSO SAAKASU were a complete let down, not only did they seem like Namikawa wasn’t even trying to sing them well but he also exaggerated in some aspects. If we think of this album as a whole, then we can definitely say for sure that Namikawa is trying to experiment with new elements and improve his “sound”.
Elements is available to all overseas fans on CDJAPAN.