joy is the third album released by YUKI. It showed a change in YUKI’s sound by incorporating more electropop into her usual pop/rock music. This album was quite successful, peaking at #1 and selling over 343,000 copies. The singles did much better than the ones from her last album as well with all three peaking within the top ten on the charts.
Released: February 23, 2005
1. Maiagare (舞い上がれ; Soar)
3. Hello, Goodbye (ハローグッバイ)
4. Walking on the skyline
5. Sweet Seventeen (スウィートセブンティーン)
6. Cider (サイダー)
7. AIR WAVE
9. Brake wa No (ブレーキはノー; No Brakes)
10. Kiss wo Shiyou yo (キスをしようよ; We Will Kiss)
11. Tinkerbell (ティンカーベル)
12. Ai Shiaeba (愛しあえば; It is Dear, If it Meets)
13. Home Sweet Home
Maiagare is a great introduction to the album’s sound with its blend of electronic and pop/rock. While I wasn’t a big fan of her more rock focused previous album, I feel like this kind of sound is much easier to digest for me. The music is interesting and I love the stronger pop/rock vibe but with a synthed-up beat. The chorus is also really catchy and works nicely with YUKI’s wackier vocals. Happy that this B-side made the album.
The album’s final single and certainly one of the more electropop songs on the album, I would say JOY is the song that got me into YUKI. The light beat and happy vibe is contagious. Even if the song is largely electronic, there are traces of YUKI’s usual pop/rock sound that underlies the music. While YUKI’s vocals are a bit too crazy at times in the verses, her child-ish delivery is perfectly suited to this style. It’s a hypnotizing song and true to its name.
Another single comes in the form of Hello, Goodbye, which goes the opposite direction with its heavy guitar riffs. It still has that light pop sound due to the inclusion of the softer synths and the chorus hook that is a bit brighter in its delivery compared to the edgier verses. The melody isn’t particularly catchy, but there is a charm to it that makes it sound better with each listen. It feels like a predecessor to some of her latest pop songs.
Walking on the skyline has a funky beat tied with a bouncy piano. It definitely follows well with the sound of the first three songs, although this one definitely goes towards a lighter, acoustic sound. Unfortunately, at this point, it is the most forgettable song. The music is fun, but the melody just doesn’t stand out.
Sweet Seventeen follows similarly to the last song with its bouncy piano. I do find this one to be a little better, partially because the chorus is actually somewhat catchy. The pre-chorus is definitely the highlight of the song though, but it just happens to be incredibly short, which is unfortunate. I do have to say that I really like YUKI’s voice here.
The next album track to come in is the harder Cider. The song opens with a pretty cool guitar riff before it goes into a bit more of an experimental side. I feel like this is one song that would fit on her previous album, but that is probably the reason why it isn’t my cup of tea. There are some really interesting parts to it, but it’s a bit too out of there for me.
It’s a bit odd to switch to this much lighter country-pop kind of song. AIR WAVE was the B-side to the album’s first single and it is another song that is somewhat reminiscent of the sounds from her previous album. It’s a cute tune with its country-like tinge that is especially heard in the guitar. It’s not quite my style, but there are some great parts like the chorus.
Setting into country/rock, we get the harder hitting WAGON. I’m not quite sure what to think of this song. The verses and pre-chorus are especially odd and that chorus is a bit out of it as well despite me liking its more explosive attitude. At this point, this is probably my least favourite of the songs.
Brake wa No comes flying in and we get something a bit more focused. This one is the short song, clocking in at just two minutes and thirty seconds, but it is a fast-paced and funky tune that takes influence from earlier psychedelic rock. It’s not that catchy, but there is something really strange and interesting about it and I love how wicked that bass sounds. The weirdest part comes in just before the two minute mark where things go slow-mo.
Bringing back the brighter pop sound, we get Kiss wo Shiyou yo, which is one of my favourite of the album tracks. It still keeps that rock sound, but ties in a few synths and a beat that help give it a really happy and cute vibe. The verses are fun, but it’s that powerful chorus that brings the life. The melody is a bit crazy, but YUKI is able to work it and there is a bit of an emotional quality to the vocal performance.
Tinkerbell starts off like a chant, which unfortunately isn’t featured later on in the song. I feel like this quality would have helped the song stand out more. This light pop/rock song gets a bit overshadowed by the other songs. It’s cute, but its only highlighting point is the second half of the chorus.
I am a bit sad it took so long to get another heavily electronic influenced pop song. Ai Shiaeba is reminiscent of the album’s title track, but doesn’t quite have the same charming melody. Instead, the focus is definitely on its swirling synth refrain that plays in the background. While the melody is quite nice, the music is the winner here and it helps to create a dreamy and fun atmosphere.
Finally finishing the album off is its first single, Home Sweet Home. This is more on the ballad side of things, but is probably YUKI’s most serious vocal performance with her changing up her wacky voice into one that is heavier in tone. I’m actually glad we have this tune as it is quite beautiful when you take the time to listen. The melody is a bit unpredictable, but there are some really gorgeous points to it, especially when tied with the string-focused music. It’s not her best ballad, but definitely a touching way to end things.
Overall: This album is definitely stronger than her last one. I know a lot of that was due to my own genre bias, but I felt like this one was stronger in melodies and did a decent job on some songs with mixing YUKI’s usual pop/rock style with some more electronic elements. My biggest criticism would be that there was just not enough of this blending. “JOY” and “Kiss wo Shiyou yo” were my favourites on the album and are two examples where this combination is heard wonderfully and I wanted more of it.