Chiisa na Marui Koujitsu is the first album released by aiko. The album wasn’t a major success at first, but it has been continuously re-released and has done moderately well in the long run, peaking at #31 and selling over 138,000 copies. Two singles were released prior to the album. The first did poorly, but the second was a top 30 hit.
Released: April 21, 1999
1. Orange na Mangetsu (オレンジな満月; Orange Full Moon)
2. Jet (ジェット)
3. Shiseikatsu (私生活; Privacy)
4. Utahime (歌姫; Songstress)
5. Akai Kutsu (赤い靴; Red Shoes)
6. Ijiwaru na Tenshi yo Sekai wo Warae! (イジワルな天使よ 世界を笑え!; Mischievous Angels Laugh at the World!)
7. Koi Ochiru Toki (恋墜ちる時; When Falling in Love)
8. Natsu ni Muffler (夏にマフラー; Muffler in Summer)
9. Bob (ボブ)
10. Naki Mushi (ナキ・ムシ; Cry Baby)
11. Ashita (あした; Tomorrow)
I love how the album starts off. Orange na Mangetsu is a catchy pop tune that it very classic early aiko. The song has a bouncy piano that ties nicely with the funky bass, percussion and touches of guitar. The song isn’t particularly catchy, but there is a great energy to the music and aiko’s singing that makes things start off in a fun way. This is what I was hoping to hear. My only issue with it is that it clocks in at over five and a half minutes.
Jet is a nice follow-up to the last song. It still retains that brighter quality to the music that was heard in the last song, but changes things around a bit. The music isn’t as explosive as the last song and while the melody is fun as well, aiko really hits some straining notes that don’t sound as pleasing. While I like the rock elements in the music, I don’t feel it is really elevates the melody that much. Still a solid tune.
The next song we finally get is something on the slower side of things. Shiseikatsu is a midtempo pop tune, but it is a pretty classic sounding aiko song. I could see this one as a single because the melody really pops and it is quite catchy. The music is also a nice change with its emphasis on the acoustic guitar and light beat. The thing that I really enjoy most about it is there are some darker tones at times.
The first ballad comes in the form of Utahime. This song starts off really nicely with the piano before the percussion and bass come rolling in. aiko’s vocals are quite sweet sounding for the verses, but I like the power she brings in the chorus. It’s not her most instant melody, but it is still pretty easy to take down and I like its more dramatic take on things.
Akai Kutsu was released as a B-side to the album’s second single. It is a bit different from the other songs because it of the cool guitar riff that starts things off is carried throughout the entire song. Even though it is there, the song still retains the usual brightness of aiko’s music. Unfortunately, at this point it is probably my least favourite of the songs. It’s not bad, but the music is sort of a blur in the background and I’m not as fond of the melody.
The next song really matches its title. Ijiwaru na Tenshi yo Sekai wo Warae! is an explosive pop song that brings some brass into it to give it a bit of punch and fun. The melody is also surprisingly catchy and works wonderfully with the music to really give it some great energy. I’m pleasantly surprised with this one and even aiko sounds like she was having a blast singing it.
Koi Ochiru Toki makes me think of music that she released in the mid-part of her career in terms of melody, but it still has the arrangements that are a bit older. This is another upbeat song, but it doesn’t quite have the same energy as the last song. The verses are a bit boring and are rather monotonous, while the pre-chorus just lacks a smooth melody. The chorus is definitely better and it’s quite catchy. Pretty solid overall.
I like the name of Natsu ni Muffler and it’s a pretty cool song. I like that tries to do something a little different with the focus on the electric guitar. The verses are quite nice and I like the feeling that it brings. However, the chorus is a bit lackluster and the notes are a bit grating here. It’s a cute song and it does get more charming as it goes on.
Bob is a short and sweet piano ballad. It’s quite cute and I like the focus on aiko’s vocals. However, the song gets a bit boring later on and I feel like it relies too much on the atmosphere it brings than the strength of the melody. It’s still a sweet song.
Finally getting into the singles, we start off with Naki Mushi, the album’s second single. This song is on the slower side of things, but it really works on bringing a dramatic sound. The music is pretty classic aiko, but it’s the melody where things shine, although both work together really nicely. The chorus is especially interesting with the sections that are sung in different ways. This isn’t one of my favourite singles from her, but it’s a solid song on here.
aiko’s first single, Ashita, just does not fit on this album. I really love this song because it is straight pop with its focus on synths and dance beat. The rest of the album focuses on a more organic sound that mixes pop and rock, but here we get a darker, dance-filled number. It’s still surprisingly catchy. While it can get a bit odd at times with the vocal performance or how weird the background vocals sound, it is just something completely different from aiko’s usual material.
Overall: This is a good first album. I feel like it was lacking a bit on the ballads, but I like that the album was quite cohesive until the last track. It’s really interesting to hear this album as aiko’s later music still plays on a lot of the same elements and sounds but changes things up. It’s a little bit rough, but the whole album has an innocent charm to it. I wish the melodies were a little stronger though as the majority of the songs didn’t really stand out in that area.