Released: December 20, 2000
Does Break the Rules really demonstrate the capabilities of what the title states or recommends? Well, as a pop and R&B album, it’s slightly mediocre at best. But to be labelled a Namie Amuro album? Hell no. This album sees a return with American mastermind Dallas Austin, and the Japanese producer Tetsuya Komuro. But, in all honestly, nothing they have created for this album is rather exciting or powerful. You get the occasional pop hooks from “No More Tears” and “Please Smile Again”, and even a ska-inspired rhythm in “Never End”, but that leaves a rather disappointing delivery from the rest of the tracks. Knowing this album was released exactly 11 months after Genius 2000, it shows no progression or nothing interesting to offer. The only song here that offers something rather warm and good is “Think of Me”, a simple pop ballad that evenly splits between her lush vocals and the instrumentation.
Gosh Namie and Avex Trax, Dallas Austin is a powerful producer that has created some of the most iconic US Top 40 tunes in recent history, and to put out two album’s in one year? He’s a producer, not a magician. Thankfully, her vocals are starting to become more mature, molding into the songs nicely without being either the background or the outmaneuvering element to the songs. But as a whole, Break the Rules really needed some more work done to it.