C-ute – ④ 憧れ My STAR [4th Studio Album]

January 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm (C-ute) (, )

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C-ute’s 4th studio album, entitled  ④ 憧れ My STAR, was released on 01.28.09. The album was released after the following singles: 涙の色, 江戸の手毬唄Ⅱand FOREVER LOVE.

憧れ My STAR is the album’s opening track and definitely a strong one. The song starts off with the hook, which is extremely addictive as the girls sing somewhat rapidly over a relaxing upbeat pop instrumental. On the verses, the girls continue to give strong vocals and there are just certain moments when the instrumenation takes a slight change and even though it is only slight, it really catches the listener’s ear. Before the chorus, there is more fast-paced vocals, which always sound great. There is also one moment where a part of the instrumentation is emphasized to move with the girls’ vocals and it sounds fantastic. The chorus is really catchy as it feels like the instrumentation is a little more sparkling as the girls’ vocals all come together strongly. This is an amazing title track and opening number that really sets the listener up for excitement.

The first shuffle song is One’s LIFE, sung by the trio of Erika, Chisato and Mai. Opening the song is a very cutesy and natural instrumentation which is quick to establish its atmosphere. The girls’ vocals on the chorus are nice and there are a few notes here and there which stand out despite not being that different. They just have a certain magic that is ear catching. The verses have a cute attitude and the little rap sections show that they’re trying something new, which actually works here strongly. One’s LIFE is a good follow up to the first track and shows the girls trying off a new style with pride.

Airi Suzuki gets her chance to shine on her solo song, Yes! all my family. There is something very cool about this song, primarily given by the instrumentation, which reflects a more mature sound. There is something slightly offputting though about the combination of the music and her vocals. She does a good job but it there should have been more of a vocal presence to really bring the coolness of the music to life. Nonetheless, she doesn’t fail the song and the music remains strong enough to carry any slips particularly on the verses. The guitar part right before the chorus sounds great and is one of the standout points in the song. The chorus is a little weak because it sounds a little too cute for the mature vibe previously established. It’s a pretty good song and even though it could have been stronger, it is still enjoyable.

涙の色, released prior to the album, comes as the fourth song on the album. The song begins with the Spanish guitar carrying a certain pretiness before the beat comes through and the instrumentation becomes more danceable and diverse. The girls then dive into the first verse and the vocals here are great, portraying emotion and keeping with the total atmosphere of the song. Before the chorus, the instrumentation takes on a more light and sparkling sound as the vocals themselves get lighter too. Then comes the chorus, which is extremely catchy and powerful as the girls come together to give a great vocal performance. The pure instrumental section gives new life into the music and has a feeling of grandeur and importance to it which will make the listener take notice. 涙の色 is a wonderful song and one of the album’s best offerings.

Saki and Kanna team up for the fifth song, 愛してる 愛してる. It’s a slow song and a bit similar to Yes! all my family, there is a kind of natural atmosphere about it which works. However this song is much more slow-paced and relaxing. The girls’ vocals are good here and having these two particular girls sing together was a smart idea since they compliment the other well. However, there is something lacking in this song. It’s just not the type of song that grabs you at first listen and it ends up dragging on as the song goes on because the pace is so slow. So this one might take some time to grow on the listener but it’s not nearly as impressive as it should have been.

Maimi gets her solo song with 青春ソング. Faithful to its title, the song is very high-energy and youthful. It has a sort of a pop rock feeling to it, which suits Maimi’s vocals strongly. The verses are definitely the song’s strongest part as Maimi shows us her cool side through her usual great vocals. During the pure instrumental section, the guitar gets a nice spolight and it does fit with the overall feeling of the song but it would have been nice to see a more mature danceable sound at that time. Generally though, this is a good song and proves how great a singer Maimi is in case there was any doubt.

The girls take on a tropical feeling with the next song, Big dreams. A twinkling and fun instrumental begins the song before the chorus comes in. After the shuffle songs, it’s nice to hear the girls together again and when they reach slightly higher, it sounds great. On the verses, that true relaxing tropical feeling comes through the instrumentation and the girls trade off showing off what they can do. Everyone sounds really good here since there is this unmistakeable chemistry between the vocals and the music. Right before the chorus, there is this light and very pretty instrumental part that sounds great and makes for a enjoyable new introduction. The pure instrumental section is very dreamy, taking the atmosphere of the song to the next level. Big dreams is a wonderful song, definitely one of the album gems worth checking out.

Next is SHINES, a fun song that will have the listener moving. The song begins with a great instrumental which definitely is ear-catching and sounds somewhat like a theme for a sports game. Then we have the vocalizations which support that sound even more. On the verses, the girls sound good but it feels more cute than what you might think from listening to the opening instrumental. Nonetheless, the song continues on a strong note. The chorus is enjoyable although the constant vocalizations do come to be a little tiring after a while. SHINES is a fun song that might seem a little misleading but is still enjoyable.

The album’s semifinale is the girls’ third and final single from this era, FOREVER LOVE. The song starts off with a hot instrumental that has some rock flares supporting the fun dance sound. Soon the instrumentation makes a nice segue into the first verse. On the verses, the vocals are great as Maimi and Airi provide smoothness and strength to support the instrumentation. The hooks stand out particularly because the vocals are a little faster and the other girls get a chance to shine, if not only momentarily. Even though the “my darling” and “I love you” are not the most fitting for the cool image of the song, they do make the chorus different from the rest of the song. One section of the song that reallystands out is the pure instrumental section as the rock elements remain but there is a real dance break feeling that works well with C-ute. It’s also interesting because the guitar gets the chance to shine the most. It’s a great song that hasn’t lost any steam since its single release.

江戸の手毬唄II is the perfect way to close off this album as its one of C-ute’s best songs to date. The song begins with the girls singing the chorus and there is a really cute atmosphere that somehow comes together with a mature vibe to form a cohesive sound. Their voices come together very strongly and they hit that last note perfectly. On the verses, the girls trade off getting a couple lines and although some are better than others, everyone manages to sound pretty good. However it’s the changing choruses that make the song so addictive and they are truly the high points of the song. The pure instrumental section is wonderful, allowing time for a nice breakdown and putting a spotlight on some of the more traditional sounds of the song. Overall, 江戸の手毬唄II is a great way and gives the listener the perfect track to end with.

Album Ranking: B +

C-ute’s 4th album was a much better package than their last one. As usual, the singles tracks were the ones that were the album’s strongest offerings. 涙の色, 江戸の手毬唄II and FOREVER LOVE are all fantastic songs that show off C-ute’s mature sound. 憧れ My STAR and Big dreams though come onto that level and are album gems as well. It would have been better if some of the new songs had that same danceable mature vibe as the singles but it was expected that it wouldn’t.

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