January 3, 2009 at 12:41 am (GIRL NEXT DOOR) (, )


GIRL NEXT DOOR’s debut studio album, entitled GIRL NEXT DOOR, was released on 12.24.08. The singles released before the album are as follows: 偶然の確率, Drive away / 幸福の条件 and 情熱の代償 / ESCAPE.

This album’s opener is the wintery pop number, Winter Game~冬のプロペラ.~ The song begins with a catchy upbeat wintery instrumental with a very clear beat. Soon the first verse begins and Chisa’s vocals compliment the music very nicely, managing to stay smooth while still giving enough power to make them stand out. Although the instrumentation does a nice job of leading the listener up to the chorus, it’s a bit of a letdown because it just sounds so plain and done before by this group. The following little section of pure instrumentation is nice though. On the actual pure instrumental section, the guitar is spotlighted and it’s a nice change of pace from the usual instrumentation but it doesn’t stand out as well as hoped. Overall, it’s just an okay track that although not as strong as an opening track should be, it does introduce the listener to the general sound of GIRL NEXT DOOR.

Up next is Drive away, which was released prior to the album as one half of a double A-side single. The song begins with a very cool and interesting instrumentation that takes the listener to another world before the first verse comes in. Somehow, the first verse feels a lot lighter than the preceding instrumental and Chisa’s vocals really give a certain hopeful feeling that stands out to the listener. Once again, the chorus is a little boring because it feels like it’s already been done by the group but Chisa gives some very strong vocals. The pure instrumental section is pretty uninteresting because it sounds so similar to that of the first track but this one has noticeably different moments that actually sound really good. It’s not a great follow-up because it’s so similar.

gnd1Following is a new song, Power of love. The song begins with a similar instrument to the following tracks but there is a certain wintery prettiness that takes focus and makes it slightly different. On the verses, it’s nice to hear a new sound and there is a very coolness to it that Chisa brings with her vocals as she sings a little more quickly than usual, following the music. This continues onto the chorus with the rapidly-sung parts standing out very nicely. Following is a small pure instrumental section and there sounds like there is somewhat electric influences that really make this instrumental catch the listener’s ear. This pure instrumental section sounded great too even though they didn’t use the electric influences, which would have made it even better. Power of love is definitely one of the album’s standouts for the fact alone that it sounds different than the others songs. Chisa provides good vocals and the instrumentation is very interesting.

幸福の条件 is the next song on the album. Beginning the song is a highly upbeat and catchy instrumental that leads into the first verse perfectly. There is a real edginess to the instrumentation that lingers on the listener’s ears as Chisa gives strong and memorable vocals to compliment it. Even though the chorus does sound a little generic, the instrumentation saves it from being a total let-down. This time, the pure instrumental section just shines brightly. With the guitars taking the reigns, the listener is introduced to a whole new layer of instrumentation, which really is memorable on this song. This is a very good followup to the last song because both provide a new and interesting take while keeping with the album’s theme.

WINTER MIRAGE ~冬の残像~ comes as the next song on the album. A very pretty instrumental, prompted by a gnd2gorgeous piano, begins the song and immediately the listener falls into a dreamy state. Chisa’s vocals on the first verse are beautiful and portray a lot of emotion, supporting that which comes from the instrumental. It sounds a little bit more upbeat on the chorus but the emotions are still clearly there and Chisa’s vocals are even a little more strong (particularly when she holds her notes with such ease). Each moment of pure instrumentation feels new and exciting thanks to the sheer beauty of them. WINTER MIRAGE ~ 冬の残像~ is an absolutely gorgeous track and it definitely shines as the album’s first ballad.

After a line of great tracks, we come to the very generic sounding 情熱の代償. Despite being a very upbeat track, Chisa manages to pull in the emotions to make this a catchy and at least slightly interesting. The momentary sections of pure instrumentation are a nice touch and give the listener something to come back to. Overall though, this track is pretty uninteresting and just sounds so generic.

The next track is amazing Fine after rain. A pretty instrumental with some sparkling moments begins the song and it stands apart from the other instrumentals nicely. After that, the music takes a slight change to the more traditional GIRL NEXT DOOR sound while still keeping some individuality. On the verses, Chisa’s vocals sound great and compliment the music nicely, creating an overall relaxing feeling. Right before the chorus, there is a very addictive sound that feels like the listener is being taken into another world. The chorus is good because Chisa reaches a little higher on some notes and delivers the rest with true power. Fine after rain is a very enjoyable track and definitely is one of the album’s more memorable numbers.

gnd3Breath, the B-side to the group’s first single, appears next. There are some rock influences on the song which sound a little cool but for the most part, it’s pretty boring.

The album’s first instrumental track is Day’s…What makes this track memorable is the guitar, which goes well with the wintery atmosphere. There’s something almost romantic about the song and even though there are no words to accompany it, the music speaks for itself and speaks to the listener. It’s a good instrumental and I’m sure this would have been an enjoyable full track with vocals.

Once again, we get some boring tracks with ESCAPE. Chisa’s vocals sound a little strained and at some points, they don’t even sound like her. The instrumentation is boring and sounds so much like their traditional sound that it really gets old.

Winter Garden ~冬の温~ is the next track. Well this song has some strong moments during the verses and the sections of pure instrumentation sound great. Unfortunately, the chorus just comes up as another traditional GIRL NEXT DOOR sound, which doesn’t come across as very interesting. It’s not a bad track but it just doesn’t stand out from their usual sound very much.

Next is Climber’s high. A very pretty instrumentation starts the song, which brings the listener into the world of the gnd4song before it suddenly turns into a danceable upbeat track. Chisa’s vocals on the first verse are very strong, really showing off her range and her ability to communicate emotion (in this case, hopefulness). The chorus is pretty nice, still keeping the upbeat and memorable sound that really shines. On the pure instrumental section, the guitar sounds absolutely fantastic, definitely delivering the interest for everyone to hear. Climber’s high is amazing and definitely one to listen to.

NEXT DOOR, an pure instrumental track, is the album’s semifinale. This instrumental has a very grandiose atmosphere to it as it takes on an orchestral sound. It still keeps the winter feeling, which ties it to the rest of the album. Although not as strong as the other instrumental track, Day’s…, it’s still enjoyable.

偶然の確率 is the group’s debut single and closing numbers. Once again, the instrumentation just sounds so generic and boring that it definitely is not the proper way to close the album. It just doesn’t have any particular point to make it sparkle like some of the other tracks.

Album Ranking: B

The biggest problem with GIRL NEXT DOOR’s debut album is that there are too many tracks that sound similar. Luckily there are some fantastic tracks like WINTER MIRAGE ~冬の残像,~ Fine after rain and Climber’s high that save this album from being a letdown. Hopefully their next effort will be a little more diverse.

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