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First of all, ignoring all the interludes and singles that have been put into GUILTY, there are only five brand new full-length tracks. Next, while (miss)understood legitimately displayed Ayumi's versatility with each song and Secret showcased some great power ballads, GUILTY strays from her usual album release. The lyrics have a heavier and more personal feel to them (excluding glitter, the summer single), which confirm her previous announcement that she is beginning a new chapter in her life. It's clear that to some extent, Ayumi literally presents some guilt on her mind with this accurately-titled album.
As always, the vocals are pleasant and the lyrics and poignant. Tracks to reconsider include "fated," "talkin' 2 myself," "Together When...," "Mirror," "MY ALL," and "untitled ~for her~." This isn't to say the rest of the album isn't worthwhile. The new direction that Ayumi has chosen for herself is more reflective, deep, and more esoteric than any previous release. It's a great album regardless of the potential to shrink a vast fanbase. With multiple listens, the meanings that Ayumi imbibes into her songs transcend any language barrier. What she feels, you feel. And I don't mind feeling GUILTY.
I keep wondering when Ayu's going to run out of steam since she's now deaf in one ear and is damaging her voice by smoking, but somehow she (and her immensely talented band, give them credit) has assembled her best album since "Duty."
This album is predominantly a rock album and features little of the pop theme seen in songs such as "BLUE BIRD" (the ones that sound more like anime theme songs).
The theme is instead much more along the lines of the gritty "Ourselves" and "Because of You" (from "Memorial Address"). "Mirror," "(don't) Leave Me Alone," "decision," and "GUILTY" are the best of these, though the slightly more upbeat "MY ALL" joins them as one of the best songs on the album. All are pulse-pounding, dramatic, and powerful, especially when Ayu uses the come-hither voice she used so effectively in the title track on "Duty." In fact, while it's often pointed out that Ayu's voice is inferior to competitors such as Utada Hikaru (it is) or that she hits a brick wall on high notes (she does), she sings "MY ALL" just about perfectly - for all of her faults, when Ayu is at her best, nobody comes close to her.
In seeking to distance herself from her recent albums and (perhaps) finally abdicating the J-pop throne in favor of her imitators, Ayu might just put together more albums with GUILTY's level of awesomeness. Even if she doesn't sell as well with the hair dye crowd in the future, I'll still be willing to fork over the 3000 yen.
Nobody does J-pop better than Ayumi Hamasaki.
So, what's so special about this album? I'm not exactly a music critic, but I will say that I would describe this album as being powerful. Most of the songs have a lot of strength and passion. But I also love the more tender moments of "Together When...", whose lyrics remind me of an old story I was writing with a friend in high school. And in general, this album reminds me of a time when I was trying to get back my passion for writing after a few very rough years. Is it all nostalgia? I don't think so. But as soon as I hear the intro to one of these songs come on random, I still get excited.
1.Mirror:A good intro that gets better and better but man, just like other intros end just when it's about to reach it's peak. 9/10
2.(don't) Leave me alone:I thought this was gonna be a calm song, but man it blows up with a excellent hype rock pop track, and I love the hook to this track. 10/10
3.Talkin' to myself:I didn't know how Ayumi was gonna do after breaking up with her boyfriend after 7 years, but after this track it gave me a sense of how strong her maturity of moving on is. It had a edge, and the song feels like the spark that Soon started a fire in her later in the year. So this track showed me a great promise after the dissapointing fated. 10/10 2nd favoirte
4.Decision:This track has the electricity of "game" and the consistancy of "is this love". Love the track and it's hard hitting hook. 10/10
5.Guilty:I love how even more deeper and darker this is compared to a favorite track "Criminal" Altho I wish the hook was a bit more edged, this song definitly gives that death sentence feeling. 9/10
6.Fated:After Glitter, I herd this. Her emotion level wasn't strong on par as the video. It gave a dissapointing average feel, at this point I didn't feel to great. 6/10
7.Together When:A sweet calm ballad. I love the calm smooth part before the nice hitting hook which brings the song a little up tempo for the better. 9/10
8.Marionette -prelude-:I love the music box style interlude in this track. Gives a feel of halloweenis christmas. 10/10
9:Marionette:Aw man this in my mind without question is Ayu's best rock ballad. Better than Game, About you About you, Alterna, (Miss)Understood, yea.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent songs filled with emotion, this is definitely one of Ayumi's best albums to date. The accompanying DVD features the music videos for Distance Love, (don't) Leave Me... Read morePublished on February 20, 2014 by Kristin
When purchasing this album for the first time, I noticed it was visibly darker, more rock driven compared to her previous works. Read morePublished on August 31, 2012 by Whitney Hernandez
I am a new devotee to J-pop, I only recently got into this great genre of music. But I know for sure Ayumi Hamasaki is one of my favourite J-pop singers and one of my favourite... Read morePublished on May 30, 2008 by Weather Warden <3
Wow...just wow...I imported this not knowing what to expect but it's great. Guilty is ver rock influenced and you'll hear it in most of the songs. I think the songs are great. Read morePublished on January 9, 2008 by Zezlemet