Aragaki Yui – hug [2nd Studio Album]

June 21, 2009 at 2:20 am (Aragaki Yui) (, )

hug New

Aragaki Yui’s 2nd studio album, entitled hug, was released on 06.17.09. The singles released before the album were Make my day, 赤い糸, piece and うつし絵.

The album begins with the calming summery song, Heart will drive. The song begins with a prettysoft instrumental that has a slight upbeat sound to it before diving into the first verse. Her vocals are very good here, staying soft and sweet for the listener to hear. But it’s the chorus that stands out more when the instrumentation becomes a little more sparkling and fresh and the happiness really radiates from her voice. This is a very nice way to begin the album with that sweetness that she is known for, introducing the listener to the mood of the album.

Up next is うつし絵;, which was released prior to the album. The song opens up with a beautiful instrumental that has a lulling effect to it, bringing the listener into a dream. Then she sings the first verse and her vocals are very pretty here, keeping the elegance of the song. The chorus features a more diverse instrumentation which makes it stand out more and her vocals are slightly stronger, which stand out. It’s such a gorgeous song and one of the album’s highlights so the choice to release it as a single was smart.

Only you is a mellow slightly jazzy track. The instrumentation is so pretty and sparkling and Yui’s vocals carry that softness that compliments the overall atomsphere very well. The image the song gives is a very calm day outside. Overall, the structure of the song is simple and it kind of feels like the song isn’t separated into verses and chorus, rather one long string of beauty. It’s a very soft and sweet track worth the listen.

Make my day, her first single, is the following song. The song opens up with a nice guitar driven instrumental, which is nice, although it doesn’t particularly captivate the listener. She then sings part of the chorus and the English line “It’s my day, fine day” stnads out. The verses are slightly better as there is that usual calming feeling that suits her so well but it still lacks the magic of the other songs.

Things stay down with フリーバード. The song opens up with a different sounding instrumental, still carrying the same calming natural sound. It’s kind of hard to understand what she’s saying on the first verse but her vocals are good as always. There’s such a relaxing atmosphere that comes out so it feels like everything is going to be all right. A little more power behind the chorus would have made the song stand out more since it just has the same usual instruments. Noentheless, it’s nice.

The sixth song on hug is a slow number, 進化論. That opening instrumental sounds a little strange and not the most capturing but once Yui comes in for the first verse, things return to their usual calming and sweet vibe. It’s an okay song but it sounds like a lot of others minus the magic.

The seventh track is ハチミツ, B-side of the last single released before the album. The song opens up with a uptempo cheerful instrumental that makes the listener want to smile. As always, her vocals sound very pretty and provide the listener with a deeper understanding of the song’s atmosphere. It’s such a nice summery uptempo track that really suits her voice well.

Another A-side appears as the eighth song, piece. The song starts off with such a twinkling caring instrumental that the listener will feel the emotions. Then comes the first verse and she provides some wonderful vocals to support the fragile sounds of the piano. Some of the higher notes could have been a little sharper but overall she was good vocally. The chorus is a little slow but it’s nice and comes nicely after the chorus.

la la…follows, still keeping the calming atmosphere. What makes this song different from the others is the use of strings to give it a mysterious and somewhat haunting feeling. Otherwise, the instrumentation is the same as are the vocals. Even though it has that mysterious card, the song just doesn’t stand out and it’s even a little boring.

The next song is 巣箱 and honestly, it sounds like a carbon copy of the other songs preceding it. As usual, the same instrumentation and same vocals so that the listener can already predict what’s coming next. Truthfully, it’s not worth the listen sicne the listener has esssentially already heard it.

レインボウ may not be the most interesting track but it does get points for going against the usual mold that she seems to base her songs around. It’s still soft and her vocals aren’t really different than in any of the other songs but it carries this slight upbeat feeling. If the song pursued that sound then it might have turned out a little more interesting.

Unfortunately, things go back to the same old sound with 赤い糸. It’s just not as strong as the other soft songs and thus, falls into the dark of the usual sound that begins to blur the tracks together.

At least Yui decided to end on a good note with the title track, hug. It has kind of a similiarity to the opening track in that both songs have a feeling of hope and happiness. That feeling is reflected in her vocals and comes to the listener enjoyably. It may not be particularly amazing but it works.

Album Ranking: C

Unfortunately, hug did not live up to the standards set by lead-in single,  うつし絵, which arrives as the truly memorable song. A slew of other songs sound similar and so as time wears on, the listener becomes gradually uninterested and wanting something new. Here and there, there are new elements but nothing that really wows. Hopefully she will be able to bring something new to the table when she delivers another single.

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Aragaki Yui – うつし絵 [4th Single]

June 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm (Aragaki Yui) (, )

utsushi e

Aragaki Yui’s 4th single, entitled うつし絵, was released on 05.27.09.

うつし絵 is the calming love song. The song opens up with a beautiful instrumental that has a lullaby effect to it, setting a mellow calming mood. Then Yui comes in on the first verse and her vocals wonderful, staying soft as to match the atmosphere of the music. Things become more grand for the chorus as the instrumentation becomes more emotionally intense and her vocals show a little more power while mainting that gentleness that makes them so loveable. This is an excellent soft song that feels like a lullaby, sweetly taking the listener off to a dream world.

The first B-side is the quiet dreamy track, 言えない「スキ」. Opening the song is another instrumental that feels like a lullaby, moreso than the one of the A-side actually. Again, her smooth and soft vocals stand out to the listener due to their dreamy quality. Just alongside the simple sounds of the piano, she really shines and brings the song to life. It’s kind of hard to determine when the chorus begins the first time around but it really makes the whole song feel like one continuous dream, which actually works here. Much like the A-side, it’s another soft and sweet song that will touch the listener’s heart.

ハチミツ is the second B-side of the single. Surprisingly, it begins with an upbeat instrumental that has such a happy feeling to it. That happiness is amplified when she begins singing since the brilliance comes out over the summer-like instrumental. The chorus is nice and fun, standing out and although her vocals are soft, they match the atmosphere of the instrumentation well. It’s nice to have something different on the single and shows that Yui isn’t all about soft ballads.

In order to promote the single, a PV for うつし絵 was made. The video features Yui singing in a boat to her reflection. It feels so artistic and pretty despite its simplicity so it’s a perfect match for the gentleness of the song.

Single Ranking: A –

Yui did a wonderful job on this single. うつし絵 and 言えない「スキ」both have this gentle lullaby sound that will take the listener away to a beautiful dream. She spices things up a little with ハチミツ, which has an uptempo summer sound perfect for the season. Hopefully her new album, hug, will carry the same strength as this single.

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