[Album] YUKI – Commune

Commune is the second album released by YUKI. The album showed a change in sound as it focused more on acoustic songs than rock tunes. The album was preceded by three singles. Unlike the singles from her first album, the singles this time weren’t as successful, with biggest hit peaking at #10. The album itself peaked at #11 and sold 90,000 copies.

commune
Released: March 26, 2003
1. Swells On the Earth
2. Naki Souda (泣きそうだ; I Think I’ll Cry)
3. Good Times
4. Strawberry (ストロベリ)
5. Rock’n Roll Star (ロックンロールスター)
6. Stand Up! Sister (スタンドアップ!シスター)
7. Hummingbird (ハミングバード)
8. Sentimental Journey (センチメンタルジャーニー)
9. Funky Fruits (ファンキーフルーツ)
10. Koibito Yo (version) (恋人よ; Sweetheart)
11. Communication (コミュニケーション)
12. Sabakuni Saita Hana (砂漠に咲いた花; A Flower That Bloomed In The Desert)

The album opens on an interesting note with Swells On the Earth. It’s a cool intro that pretty much gives us a glimpse of what the album will be like. It’s a gentle tune that focuses on the acoustic.

Naki Souda has a lot more energy and sort of brings back the energy from her first album. I do like the power this song has and YUKI’s voice suits this song quite nicely. I just wish the melody was more memorable. The music is cool and I love the cool riffs, but I don’t quite remember how the actual song goes. It’s fun, but not really what I was looking for.

Good Times is more mellow, but definitely more interesting. I love the spacey vibe of this song, especially in the verses. The song pretty much stays at the same level until two-thirds into the song when things just explode. It’s an interesting twist and much needed as the song did get a bit dull before this part. I like the contrast of the two parts.

Strawberry changes things up once again as it plays around with the vocal delivery. I can’t really say this is my kind of song though. It’s not bad and the hook is a bit catchier, but it also doesn’t have much impact. I just don’t really remember this song that much, but I do appreciate it trying to do something different.

Rock’n Roll Star finally brings something more acoustic. When it comes to YUKI’s early releases, her acoustic songs always came off more charming to me. I do like this one more than the other songs. The music is light and YUKI gives an interesting vocal performance.

standupsister

Stand Up! Sister is the album’s first single and it is one of the stronger songs on the album. It has a midtempo acoustic sound to it, but does bring more energy. I quite like the verses with the use of background vocals, but it’s the chorus where things shine. The song is quite catchy and I feel like it’s finally the first song that really gets stuck in my head. It’s not her best song, but it’s a solid tune.

hummingbird

The album’s third single, Hummingbird comes popping up right after. Another acoustic pop song, this one is definitely more laid back. It reminds me a bit of Prism from YUKI’s last album as the vibe feels more like it is traveling. I do wish the hooks were a bit more memorable as I forget how it goes. There are some really charming parts to it though and I really like it when the strings come in.

sentimentaljourney

The album’s second single follows. Sentimental Journey continues the acoustic vibe of the last few songs, but I do think it is stronger than the last one. The song is a bit long, but the chorus is definitely better as the melody goes up and down and brings some unpredictability. It’s quite relaxing, but touching at the same time.

Funky Fruits brings exactly what is expected. It has that 60’s psychedelic sound to it and it is a fun change. I actually like the verses more than the chorus though. It starts off sounding like it is going to build into something great, but I feel like it just takes too long to get there and the chorus itself is quite repetitive and short. Not my kind of song.

Koibito yo (version) was original released on the album’s first single as a B-side track. I’m not quite sure of the original, but this version is a really weird song. The vocals are distorted in a way and it sounds like YUKI sounds like she is singing from afar. The music has a more reggae quality to it that comes up around halfway through. It’s definitely an interesting song to say the least. Not sure if I like it.

Communication finally brings a bit more energy as it has a more uptempo swing to it. Unfortunately, I just do not like this song that much. The vibe feels so sleepy and like YUKI has very little emotion in her voice. The melody and the music just continue at the same pace throughout so it feels like there is very ltitle change as well.

Sabakuni Saita Hana ends the album in an interesting way. Although it is a slower song, it has an interesting arrangement and it reminds me of an older style of music. I do think it gets a bit dull as the song goes on though as it does last around five minutes and the changes in it aren’t that big.


Overall: I can understand what this album is trying to do. It feels like it is playing up a lot of older styles of music, which is a nice thing to hear. However, it also feels like the album isn’t very contemporary. Rock is a harder genre for me to get into, but I feel like this album just wasn’t for me. Compared to her first one, this one seemed a lot less accessible and the music and vocals were just very different. It’s a cool release and I want to like it, but it doesn’t quite do it for me personally.

C+

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[Album] YUKI – PRISMIC

YUKI rose to fame as the lead vocalist to the rock band, JUDY AND MARY. After multiple hiatuses, the band disbanded in 2001 and YUKI embarked on a solo career. Her albums have been relatively successful and her unique voice has lent itself to a variety of genres. PRISMIC was her debut album and featured three singles. Two were quite popular and released prior to the album and another was released after. The album itself proved successful as it reached #3 and sold over 300,000 copies.

prismic.jpg
Released: March 27, 2002
1. Nemuri Hime (眠り姫; Sleeping Beauty)
2. the end of shite
3. 66db
4. Sayonara Dance (サヨナラダンス; The Good-Bye Dance)
5. Wakusei ni Nore (惑星に乗れ; Ride on a Comet)
6. Rainbow St.
7. I U Mee Him
8. Wasureru Uta (忘れる唄; The Forgetting Song)
9. Ai ni Ikite (愛に生きて; Live in Love)
10. Prism (プリズム)
11. Furuete Nemure (ふるえて眠れ; Shivering, Go to Sleep)
12. Noroi (呪い; Curse)

While YUKI’s music has branched out a bit more later on in her career, Nemuri Hime really brings what YUKI was initially best known for. This is a pretty cool pop/rock tune with some punk elements. What I love most is that guitar that drives the verses, although it is a bit upsetting it disappears during the chorus. The melody isn’t particularly catchy and it is sort of offset by YUKI’s rough vocals. Not sure if I’m totally into this song.

theendofshite

Luckily, I absolute adore the end of shite. As her debut single, it explodes right when the song opens up. The rock sound works great with the catchy melody and YUKI’s crazy voice. I really enjoy how aggressive everything is from the guitar to the heavy percussion. I think it takes the sound of the last song but makes it a little more streamlined and accessible.

66db

66db is a total change. Instead of the rock sound we had gotten, we swing right into something a much more laidback. Focused on a simple beat, piano and odd dashes of synths, the song actually works really nicely with YUKI’s rough vocals. She doesn’t seem as aggressive in her delivery and her voice is quite charm at times. With that said, I don’t think I’m totally into the song. It goes a bit slow and the melody isn’t particularly memorable.

Sayonara Dance gets us back to that upbeat rock sound and it gives a cooler delivery. I love the guitar throughout the song as it brings a bit of a country rock edge. The chorus isn’t bad, but not as strong as the delivery of the verses. I wish the melody was a bit catchier, but there are some fun parts to it.

Wakusei ni Nore seems to combine the sounds of the last two songs. We have something a bit more laidback with synths, but the main foundation is still a rock song. It’s sort of a spacey version of the last few songs. It’s not bad, but the melody just isn’t my cup of tea and a bit too unpredictable. The music is cool though.

Rainbow St. is really trippy. It’s probably the most out of it kind of song at this point. It pretty much has the aspects of the last song with its more spacey funk sound for the verses, but the rock explosion in the choruses. There is also a little bit of a rap from some male rapper and it surprisingly works out here. Probably one of the stronger album tracks.

I U Mee Him is pretty much the end of shite, but with the more spacey kind of sound. The chorus has parts that sound almost identical to that song. I do love how aggressive this one is and there are some pretty wicked guitar riffs throughout the song. I don’t think it is meant to be as catchy as there is very little singing, but it’s a pretty interesting song in general.

Finally back to the more straightforward rock sound, Wasureru Uta reminds me a bit of oldschool 70s rock with its more psychedelic vibes. It’s slower, but I really love how it has that relaxed, stoned feel to it. It takes its time and it doesn’t disappoint. I love the guitar and it works really well with the trippy background vocals. It’s definitely an experience.

Ai ni Ikite on the other hand is a bit more country pop. Unlike the electric guitar domination of the last song, here we get a touch of acoustic as well. It’s definitely much more relaxing and makes me think of a country road with its mix of percussion, guitar and even harmonica. I do find the verses to be a bit of a chore to get through, but the chorus is actually quite nice. Maybe not the most memorable, but it has its charms.

prism

Prism swings us more into pop realm and focuses more on the piano. This is actually my favourite YUKI song and it stands out so much on this album. It has that country road sound to it, but the melody is just much stronger and more memorable. I love the emotion behind the song and YUKI sounds really great here. She doesn’t get very crazy and her voice has a lot of personality that it really gives the song life. Great.

Furuete Nemure starts off focusing on the acoustic guitar, but as it progresses it gains more instruments and power. The verses are quite calming and makes it sound like the chorus will go into something a bit lighter, but the chorus actually changes things up. It do like that the chorus isn’t as predictable, but it’s still quite entrancing. I think YUKI’s voice combined with the odd melody really gives an interesting blend. It’s cool.

Noroi ends the album on a slower note. It relies mostly on the drums and an electric guitar to bring this more dragged down rock sound. I do think it has some nice ideas to it, but it lasts around seven minutes long and the music itself sounds like it’s dragged out so it just sort of makes everything feel even longer.


Overall: While I’m not as well-versed in rock music, I do find this album pretty enjoyable. The majority of the album tracks were fairly decent and there weren’t many weaker ones. With that said, because this isn’t the type of music I’m into as much, I do feel like quite a few didn’t quite impress me as much as they could have. There were still two excellent songs though in the form of singles.

B+