Kumi Koda: ‘Bon Voyage’ – Album Review

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Released: February 26, 2014

Bon Voyage—the 11th studio album by the glorious J-diva Kumi Koda—was actually one of the first records I bought from her. I was trying to thoroughly find a certain record at the time that suited my needs of finding another artist to add to my J-pop playlist, but nothing came to my avail! THEN BOOM! Ms. Kumi’s 2014 record blasted into the seas and made me ride the high waves of infectious J-pop/urban bangers!

Unlike her previous records, I find Bon Voyage an emphasize on her trashier and fun side, especially on the Beyonce-esque number “Show Me Your Holla” or the Sean Paul duet “Loaded”, which brighten ups her sound with more ska-influence elements. Another gold mention is the doo-woopy anthem “Winners”, which is pure Koda to the high heavens. It’s funky and fun without trying too hard, but still stays contemporary. I guess you could fit “Go to the Top” and “On Your Side” as another set of bangers. Now, I understand they’re club songs, not no ordinary set of bangers, I get it. But they’re just as strong; the electronic dubstep crossover was a thing back then (back then, hence the term…), so it works well enough.

Another element I was surprised about was the limitation of ballads, in comparison to every other album she’s released where at least a bunch of them are added on… I know, shocking. But surprisingly, they’re both great; “Imagine” is a little more traditional within the R&B field, but still shines as a result of Kumi’s beautiful vocals. Whereas “Koishikute”, a piano and strings-driven ballad, emphasizes her fragile songwriting which isn’t bad either. Her voice, of course, and inexcusably (sigh), can get a little out of hand with the amount of bloody ranges she possess, but that’s only during the end chorus, so it’s listenable until then—which is still a great thing!

But a Kumi Koda album wouldn’t be complete without you quintessential rock and hood anthems. “Touch Down” is the most prominent mixture of both here, spitting out some killer verses semi-aggressive arrangement with the electric guitars. But the lead single, “LALALALALA”, does a complete 180 and cashes in the urban for a punk-rock vibe. It’s such a summery tune that it’s no funny. It’s catchy and hooky as hell! But the following two tracks are… well, interesting, to say the least. “Crank tha Bass”, which features OVDS, is like a complete F-ing mess of synths, rock riffs, digital applications and some four-on-the-floor chorus break. But oddly enough, it’s the album’s biggest, and boldest guilty pleasure. Yes I know y’all, its trash. But it’s a good trash, to the point where it’s kind of listenable. I dunno, I’m just weird like that. Whereas “LOL”, with its solid chorus, can be quite weak at times… and a lil’ silly.

I can easily say that the coherency and consistency is a little better this time round, having rounded of each genre and vibe in their respective areas without trashing other areas moods. Damn, even the introduction and interlude tracks are point! But take the last three dance tracks as an example; they’re feel good, to put it simply. But whilst “On Your Side” is quite enjoyable and fun, the production of “Dreaming Now!” and “U Know” is severely generic.

Nevertheless, Bon Voyage is an enjoyable record to listen to. It may have its small kinks and issues here and there, but effectively, majority of the material have solid choruses and verses, while the ballads start to sound a lot more subtle and gentle. They come out quite special, and thankfully for Ms. Kumi, Bon Voyage is a keeper. All hit the deck! Cause Kumi-chan served again!

Track list (Bold means best tracks)

  1. Introduction ~Bon Voyage~
  2. SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA
  3. LOADED (feat. Sean Paul)
  4. Winner Girls
  5. Imagine
  6. Koishikute
  7. LALALALALA
  8. Let’s show tonight
  9. Interlude ~Bon Voyage~
  10. TOUCH DOWN
  11. CRANK THA BASS (feat. OVBS) ~Liam’s favorite~
  12. LOL
  13. Go to the top
  14. Dreaming Now!
  15. On Your Side
  16. U KNOW

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