Released: November 10, 1999
After releasing the immensely successful A Song for xx in January 1999, Ayumi Hamasaki dropped another bombshell that November; Loveppears, her second album. Never a musician to reckon with, she chucked in her long-skirts, short bob haircut and cutesy jewellery and make-up for a more mature, sexy and pixie-like image for the record. Unlike her first album, Loveppears is probably her most commercial work yet; it soars slick electronic production with groovy dance beats and club-oriented mixes, all serving yet another re-invention of Ms. Hamasaki. It’s of course a 90’s-cultured inspired album, so the glare of strumming electric guitars and soft-tapping drum beats make it even more accessible.
Opening with a robotic introduction track, it hits off with the agile-flair of dance tune “Fly High”, showcasing some rapping and clear vocals. Despite the fluff, Hamasaki does reassure the audience to take her song-writing and feelings seriously, which is shown powerfully in the four-on-the-floor number “And Then”, the experimental “To Be”, the slow-jam’s “Appears”, and “End Roll” and the fragile “Who…” (along with hidden track “Kanariya”). However, the singer doesn’t lose sight of experimentation with her sound, especially with the Westernized-trance number “Whatever” and the industrial-inspired “P.S. II” (Playstation 2? No not exactly). Both of these tracks opened a new door to the Ayu sound that, unfortunately, she hasn’t channelled since.
But of course, she still holds onto her J-Pop wig with the remaining tracks on the album, all incorporating funky guitar-driven instrumentation and additional poppy synths and keyboards (check out the pop numbers “Boys & Girls” and “Trauma” as examples). From here to now, Loveppears is definitely Hamasaki’s biggest musical move. Not one of her albums since its release has managed to captivate emotive song writing with tasteful commercial music and gorgeous production, and because of that, Loveppears is Hamasaki’s best record.
Track List (Bold means best tracks)
- Fly High
- And Then
- Boys & Girls
- To Be
- End Roll
- P.S. II
- Whatever (Dub 1999 Mix) ~Liam’s favorite~
- Too Late
- Love (Refrain)
- Kanariya (Hidden Track to “Who…”)