[Album] Crystal Kay – 637 -always and forever-

637 -always and forever- is the second album released by Crystal Kay. It showed a departure from the more indie sound of her debut by bringing something with a stronger pop/R&B sound. The album proved to be more successful than her debut as it peaked at #19 and sold 48,000 copies. It also featured a minor hit with single Ex-Boyfriend.

637
Released: August 22, 2001
1. Girl’s Night
2. interlude~my ex
3. Ex-Boyfriend
4. CURIOUS
5. He Will Be Mine
6. ANOTHER BEST THING
7. Guardian Angel
8. interlude~conditioner
9. Honey Glue
10. Tsuki no Nai Yoru, Michi no Nai Basho (月のない夜 道のない場所; A Moonless Night, a Roadless Place)
11. Holiday Fighter
12. Couldn’t Care Less
13. LOST CHILD (Original Version)

Girl’s Night opens the album and it is a strong start. The album’s first single, this song really shows the change in the album’s sound as it is an upbeat R&B tune. The song really reminds me of early 00’s R&B songs, which I love listening to. It’s a catchy tune that has a strong pre-chorus. While the chorus is catchy, I do find it a bit dependent on the energy from the music to really give it that punch as the melody is a bit monotone. It’s a good tune though. interlude~my ex is pretty much just some guy on the phone talking about a girl. However, it brings us right into Ex-Boyfriend, which was the album’s second single. This song pretty much continues the sound of the last song, but ups it a bit as the chorus is more memorable and the beat is slower but more impacting. VERBAL from m-flo also comes in with a rap around the end. Crystal really shows off the versatility of her voice and it sounds great in this song, especially in the lower registers during the verses. My only complaint would be the length of the song, but it’s a great tune. CURIOUS is a nice change because it brings something a bit slower. The guitar in the backdrop really makes me think of something that Janet Jackson would to. I don’t think the song is as strong as the last two as the melody is a bit forgettable and the song doesn’t really bring a strong transition into the chorus, which makes me not even notice its introduction. It’s not bad though and there are some nice parts to it. He Will Be Mine reminds me more of something from the late 90’s. It is the most aggressive song up to this point, but I unfortunately don’t like it as much. It just sort of blasts along, but the music doesn’t really do the melody any justice. It just lacks a really strong push that brings that chorus to the next level. Crystal does sound good though. ANOTHER BEST THING is the most “pop” song up this point with its laid back guitar vibe. I was not expecting this after the last four songs, but it is a welcome change and Crystal’s vocals still sound great here. The song is actually really strong as the melody is really beautiful and is the catchiest since Ex-Boyfriend. I just wish the vocals were on the same level as the music as there are times where the melody gets overshadowed. I feel like this would have worked nicely after CURIOUS. With a title like Guardian Angel, I was expecting something a bit more downtempo. Instead, we get another upbeat R&B tune. With that said, it’s a bit lackluster. I just feel like there isn’t much power in the music nor in the hooks and it just comes across as an average tune. It has some decent parts like the pre-chorus, but it is pretty forgettable in the long run. interlude~conditioner is literally about conditioner and shampooing… It’s cute, but a bit weird. Honey Glue is more like something from her debut album, with its acoustic sound. It also has a few weird sounds coming in that remind me of some songs from her debut. It’s a pretty gentle song and Crystal’s voice sounds exceptionally beautiful here. With that said, there are parts of the song I’m not a big fan of like some of the instrument choices and background vocals. It’s just not my cup of tea. Tsuki no Nai Yoru, Michi no Nai Basho is the slowest song up to this point and makes me think of something more gospel. The beginning is nice, but I feel like Crystal’s voice is just too sweet to bring that power (at least at this point in her career). Still, the chorus is actually quite nice in terms of melody and it works nicely with the music. I just wish Crystal’s voice was more powerful to really give the song what it needs. It feels like something is holding the song back. Holiday Fighter is a pop/rock song and really helps bring some versatility. It has a great energy about it that reminds me of taking a road trip due to that driving guitar. The transition into the chorus is a bit abrupt, but the chorus is actually quite nice. Crystal’s voice sounds a bit odd here though. Couldn’t Care Less is the slowest R&B tune on the album. It still has a pretty strong beat, but the melody is definitely slower. This song is also completely in English. I’m not quite sure what I feel about it though. It’s a bit of a boring pop/R&B ballad as the hook just isn’t that strong and the music doesn’t quite fit that well. I think if the music worked with that gorgeous but subtle guitar then it would have been much stronger. LOST CHILD is actually a collaboration between Crystal, Osawa Shinichi (MONDO GROSSO) and Fujiwara Hiroshi. It’s absolutely stunning. There are some jazzy and dreamy qualities to the song that I really love. I quite enjoy the mix of piano, bass, strings and other odd instruments, which helps to really bring a swirling and beautiful tune together into one. Crystal sounds great here and her voice works well due to its huskier quality. A bit of an oddball on the album, but a great tune.

Overall: This is a decent follow-up to her debut album and really helped to introduce a new song from Crystal. With that said, while I am glad that she switched things up, I was left a bit disappointing because a lot of the album tracks just did not interest me as much. They weren’t horrible, but the R&B tunes were just not as strong as the single and the other songs were largely just not my cup of tea. I wish she pushed that R&B sound more. Would recommend tracks 1, 3 and 13.

B

Advertisements

[Album] Crystal Kay – C.L.L CRYSTAL LOVER LIGHT

Crystal Kay debuted at the young age of 13. Although she didn’t initially find success, it slowly came to her over the years and she was able to score a few huge singles. Her songs are primarily pop tunes with touches of R&B here and there, largely from the influence of her mixed background, which allowed her to gain a strong grasp of both English and Japanese. C.L.L CRYSTAL LOVER LIGHT is her debut album and was released when she was just fourteen. It was preceded by three singles and another was released on the day of the album’s release. The album peaked at #60 on the charts and only sold around 20,000.

cllcrystallovelight
Released: March 23, 2000
1. Interlude P.P.P
2. Eternal Memories
3. Komichi no Hana (こみちの花; Flower of the Lane)
4. More Lovin’
5. TEENAGE UNIVERSE ~Chewing Gum Baby
6. Let’s Suika Dorobo (レッツすいかどろぼう)
7. Taka Taka Taka (タカ・タカ・タカ)
8. Darling P.P.P. (ダーリンP.P.P.)
9. Today Friend the Decoration Cake Kau Kau GO (トゥデー・フレンド・ザ・デコレーションケーキ・かうかう・GO)
10. Tsurenai Guitar (つれないギター; Unfriendly Guitar)
11. Papa Donpi (パパどんピ)
12. Rainy Blue Day
13. C’mon Baby
14. Shadows of Desire

Interlude P.P.P opens things up with a pretty cool intro. At first, it comes off a bit creepy with its heavy beat and airy vocals, but once the melody comes in it gets more interesting. It also does a good job flowing right into Eternal Memories, Crystal’s debut single. This is one of my favourite songs from her. It’s a really ethereal and laid back R&B tune. I love the beat that comes in under the gentle touches of guitar and piano. The ending is really cool as well, as some background vocals come popping in to give the song a dreamier sound. Great! Komichi no Hana was the third single and it has a completely different sound, with things going a bit more on the rock route. The song is really explosive and has a cool guitar riff to get things going. Crystal also sounds pretty good here, but I’m not a fan of the melody. It just doesn’t have the same impact as the music. More Lovin’ brings us back to the R&B sound. It really reminds me of something from the late 90’s in the US (and it’s all in English). The great beat tied with the dreamy background vocals really create a stunning combination. I do find that Crystal’s vocals are a bit weak here and she isn’t as sure of herself. Also, she is singing a lot of risque stuff for being only 14, so it is a bit uncomfortable. Not bad if you can get over it. TEENAGE UNIVERSE ~Chewing Gum Baby was released as the second single and brings us something a bit more upbeat. Besides the parts where Crystal is singing “chewing gum baby”, the rest of the song is pretty cool. The verses are really unpredictable and I like the distortion in her voice. The chorus isn’t as hard hitting as I would want it to be, but it is definitely catchy. There are some pretty stand out parts though. Let’s Suika Dorobo is a super robotic styled song. The music is more ethereal, but the vocals are really distorted. I think it’s a pretty cool affect to have and it really fits thing style of song. It’s not that catchy, but I do like the overall feel that the song gives off. Taka Taka Taka is like a cool mix of blues and hip-hop put together. I really like how different it sounds and the music is pretty wicked. I don’t think the melody is the strongest, but there is a nice relaxing vibe to the whole song and Crystal’s voice sounds great here. Darling P.P.P is a nice relaxing R&B/pop tune. It’s not the most exciting sounding song on the album, but the song does have a charming quality to it. I just don’t quite like how they say P.P.P as it does sound a bit weird, but I don’t know the context. Besides that, the song is really nice and Crystal belts it out a bit. Despite her young age, she really pulls it off. Today Friend the Decoration Cake Kau Kau GO is a short and interesting acoustic tune. It’s quite different from the rest of the album with its summery sound. I think it’s a nice change, but it’s not really that strong of a song. There are some cool parts to it though like Crystal’s voice and the harmonies. It’s interesting. Tsurenai Guitar continues the acoustic sound, but makes things a bit darker. It’s too bad it is only an interlude because it really sounds great and Crystal’s voice sounds really great here. I don’t really know how to describe Papa Donpi. It’s a huge change in styles with its strong upbeat country sound. It has some really interesting ideas all blended together with the music. Soaring string-like synths, strong percussion and the touch of electric guitar. I actually quite like it though. Even though it is a big change, there is something really cool about it. The chorus is especially nice with the unpredictable melody. Rainy Blue Days is a nice bluesy tune that is sung entirely in English. I really like the deep bassline that comes popping in. The melody is surprisingly nice and works well with Crystal’s voice. However, I do find that Crystal doesn’t quite sound mature enough to really pull the song off. It’s a pretty good tune though. C’mon Babe is the first upbeat dance tune in a long time. I really like the slight disco influence it has and despite the music being quite bare at times, everything comes together nicely. I wish Crystal’s voice was a bit stronger as there are times where she does sound unsure of herself. Maybe the current-age Crystal could pull it off better. With that said, it’s a cute tune. Shadows of Desire ends the album on a really interesting note. The song has some really big transitions. It goes from something calmer before exploding with energy for the chorus. I quite like the chorus because the melody is in-your-face and the distortion on the vocals really works great with the crazy arrangement. For the final single, it was a nice surprise.

Overall: I was a bit worried at how I would enjoy this album, however, there are some pretty solid album tracks on here. I do find that a bit of the material is too mature for Crystal at the time, so the innocence in her voice comes out quite a few times, which doesn’t lend itself well to certain songs. With that said, there were some really cool songs and a lot of different kinds of sounds. I do wish there were a few more songs that really stood out there as were only a few I would revisit often.

B