Koda Kumi didn’t hit it big until her seventh single, Real Emotion. Prior to that, she had some moderate success with a few top 30 singles. Her first album, affection, also hit number twelve on the Oricon charts and sold close to 100,000 copies.
Released: March 27, 2002
1. atomic energy
2. Trust Your Love [MV]
3. Go Together
4. Your Song
5. feel me
6. COLOR OF SOUL [MV]
7. Best Friend Of Mine
8. My Dream
9. So Into You [MV]
10. Till Morning Comes
11. come back
12. TAKE BACK [MV]
13. Can’t Lose
affection opens with a funky intro. atomic energy is largely made up of a robotic beat, synths and a few odd background vocals thrown about. It’s a cool opening and helps to pump the listener up. I’ve never been the biggest fan of intros, but it does a good job flowing into the next song.
Trust Your Love was the most successful single released from the album. This upbeat R&B/pop track has some cool qualities to it. I really enjoy the slew of different synths that are used for the song. It is pretty interesting have each section of the song has its own distinct flavor and style. The song is quite catchy, but I don’t think it’s the strongest of her singles. In fact, it’s probably my least favourite of the singles on the album. I always feel like it is missing something, most particularly during the chorus.
Go Together pretty much continues the sound from the last song but slows things down to give us a funky pop/R&B midtempo jam. I actually prefer this song to the last one. The execution seems much better and more polished. The sound is quite interesting as well as it seems to fuse some of the 90s J-Pop qualities with some of the newer ones found in the early 2000s. The beat and melody mix well with the more contemporary arrangement and it gives a pretty cool blend. With that said, my only gripe is Koda Kumi’s voice. She does sound good during the verses, but she sounds really harsh during the higher notes of the chorus.
Your Song slows things down even further with a nice R&B ballad. One thing I really enjoy hearing from Koda Kumi in her early days are her ballads. However, Your Song has a few things it could work on. While I love the relaxed feeling of this song and you can definitely see it as a predecessor for her later R&B tunes, it isn’t as polished. The verses are actually quite stellar and very well done. I love the melody here, but the chorus isn’t executed as nicely. I feel the melody is too bouncy and Koda’s vocals are too grating for certain parts of the song and it doesn’t fit well with the gentle arrangement.
feel me changes things up by bringing an upbeat dance/pop tune. I really enjoy the more futuristic sound of this song. It’s a fun tune to hear, but I don’t think it’s particularly strong. The melody is somewhat forgettable and while Koda’s vocals are actually masked by a vocoder during the chorus, I don’t really like it since it loses some of the emotion from her voice. The beat is really cool and the synths are quite funky, but this isn’t that strong and drags on.
COLOR OF SOUL has one of the cooler openers for me. I really like the dadada’s at the start and they really let the song slide right into the great verses. Definitely one of the stronger songs on the album, I really like this one because of its distinctly early 2000s J-Pop sound. It’s pretty straightforward pop with some dance elements and it works really well with Koda’s tone. I did wish the song had an extra punch to it though.
Best Friend Of Mine is a pretty cool interlude with its acapella qualities to it. It’s quite short but has a lot more singing than the intro. The sound is a lot more soulful than the rest of the album, however I wish the song didn’t mask the vocals and just let Koda let it rip.
A striking upbeat dance/pop tune, My Dream definitely has the qualities to be a lead track. In fact, the music is very similar to that of COLOR OF MY SOUL. With that said, I actually find this one stronger. The melody is more interesting and I like the unpredictability of it, like the second half of the chorus where things deviate a little. I also like the music during the chorus. The arrangement is pretty sweet with its odd beats and electric guitar. It’s a fun mix and a little strange, but it surprisingly works out quite well.
So Into You was the fourth single from the album and one of the stronger songs. I really love the verses here. They are probably my favourite from the whole album as Koda just sounds so relaxed and in control of the melody. The chorus is also quite strong and actually features a pretty well-executed sound. I think the arrangement is a bit bare compared to some of the other songs, but the melody is definitely more interesting. Definitely not as in your face as some of the other songs, but a nice change.
Till Morning Comes features VERBAL from m-flo. I do like how it takes the general synthed up sound of the album and morphs it with some hip-hop elements. With that said, I think this is one of the messier songs. There are some interesting elements of the song such as the music, but the melody is all over the place and the flow between Koda Kumi and VERBAL just doesn’t work that well. His parts in particularly just don’t work with this kind of song. Next please.
come back is the first full-fledged “ballad” on the album and one of the few songs that doesn’t have a strong dance or R&B influence to it. Largely piano-based with some synths, the song is a good showcase of Koda’s vocals. With that said, you can definitely hear her improvement in later albums as there are times here where her voice just doesn’t come too smoothly here. I wanna like this song a lot and I like some of the qualities about it, but it is quite boring in the long run and sort of just drags on. I especially get annoyed at the chorus line, “I wanna come back to you~”, as the notes at the end of the you are just so poorly executed.
Thankfully, TAKE BACK arrives and helps to save things. I love the more apparent R&B influence in this song and Koda Kumi really works it. With that said, the best part of the song is the instrumental break that has such a funky riff that helps give the song some flavor. I really love the feel of the song and the verses are really cool. Koda Kumi really does best with her lower register and her voice works well with the beat when she’s relaxed. The chorus is quite nicely executed, too. I like the melody a lot and it is very catchy. I also enjoy how dramatic it is, but there are definitely some things with the vocals that could be worked on. My favourite from the album.
Can’t Lose pretty much continues the sound of the rest of the album, but it has some cool qualities to it. Like the last song, the coolest part is definitely the instrumental breaks in between the singing parts. The song in general is quite cool and could have easily been made into a single since it sounds so similar to some of the others one here. What I do enjoy about this song though is that Koda Kumi stays largely in her more comfortable zone in terms of singing. There aren’t as many higher notes where she has to go into the more grating sound. She really sounds the best in this song.
walk ends the album on a slower note. I really love the R&B feel of this song, especially during the verses. She really has a good voice for these kind of songs. The verses are in fact my favourite part of the song as the melody is really beautiful. I love the darker quality of the music here as well. The chorus on the other hand really explodes with an array of instruments and power. I like the strength of it, but it’s not the most musically appealing sound. I do find Koda to be overpowered by the music and she ends up screeching her way up to the higher notes. I wish she kept the darker sound of the verses though as the choruses are very bright in energy.
Overall: I want to like this album more, but there are some things that I’m not a big fan of. I enjoy the cohesiveness of the album as it helps to create unison between all the tracks. With that said, while most of the songs have unique qualities to them, there are a few that tend to have a more predictable feel to them. Also, I found myself enjoying the verses way more than the choruses. This is partly due to the melodies themselves being much more charming in these parts but also because Koda Kumi really sounds good using her lower register. I do think there are some cool tracks, but for the overall sound of the album, it feels like it is lacking in some really stellar songs (besides TAKE BACK though).