Kumi Koda: ‘W Face ~Outside~’ – Album Review

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Released: March 8, 2017

Hitting into March 2017, Ms. Kumi Koda has decided to drop by with not one, but TWO studio albums! Yes y’all, a J-pop emergency I say! I made a headline of this a month ago, but the scheme isn’t particularly new per say; E-girls released E.G. Crazy in January as two records in one, while many other acts in the Western and Asian music world repackage their studio releases a second time just because then want dat munnaayy (no seriously though). But I appreciate it, mainly because I’m a fan of Kumi-chan and offers two visions of her artistry. But because it’s two records, I will be reviewing each one, so… grab your popcorn cause it’s gon’ be a ride!

So this record—the record I was living for when the previews came out, and then died of fierceness… then came back—is titled W Face ~Outside~, which is a urban-affair of dance beats, twerking anthems and incomprehensible English language that makes me babble and sing along to. Yuss, I love me some hood Koda! The opening number is the title track, which focuses on a low-key R&B sound with that finger click fierceness. It’s not the most impressionable opening for the record, but it does justice in defining the record’s style, to say the least. But the party starts with the single “Ultraviolet”, a chaotic electro number that has Kumi all up in our face screaming “Attack like a machine gun, tra ta ta ta ta ta tra ta ta ta ta.” Yuss queen!

To be honest, Kumi-chan was one of the trailblazer to the urban revolution in good ol’ J-pop world, so I’m happy to see her get back into the swing of thangs for Outside. Another banging moment is the insanely catchy “Wicked Girls”, which sounds like an ode to Gwen Stefani and Janet Jackson’s work, though it sometimes steps into their field for it to sound a little unoriginal. After that, we get more funky moments like the saxophone extremist “Bassline”, the poppin’ “Bangerang” (uhhhh the chorus is like air to me) and even brings a little bit of swing on the infectious “Shhh”. But my favorite track on the record is “Damn Real”, which almost sounds like a throwback to the 1990s R&B until it hits that dope drop after the chorus. SLAY! Speaking about drops, they are present in nearly every track here, which is kinda good because they are fire-as-hell! But in some tracks like “Bassline” and “Cupcake”, which features AKLO, it gets a little tedious.

The structure on this record is a lot stronger and clearer than majority of her previous records, which is a bonus for Kumi considering that it rarely happens. I noticed this with Walk of My Life, but because the record spanned to a near 20-track album, it gave a lot more space for fillers, whereas Outside squeezes together as a tighter and cohesive package (and gorgeous-as-F artwork). But what I noticed is that the production, and sometimes the sound, can come off a little light, to the point where I still feel like I’m hungry for more. Take “Bangarang” for example; a solid killer hit once it hits the chorus, but the verses and breaks seem weak and a bit repetitive. But why… OH WHY did Kumi-chan add a ballad here? Ain’t that the reason you made another album? YOU’VE GOT SOME EXPLANING TO DO GURL! Here’s the thing; “Heartless”, the sole piano-ballad associated with the record, is actually a good song. Damn forget dat, it’s probably one of her better ballads in recent times. But you add it here where you could have honestly replaced it with a “mehhh” track from Inside? Gurl… just no. RUINED THE STREAK!

But apart from that one hiccup, W Face ~Outside~ has impressed me a lot. There are some solid tracks here that could stand as some of her better dance/urban numbers in a long time, and the consistency of the record stands out. Ms. Kumi Koda seems a lot stronger and slicker with this record, and hopefully it carries on with future releases. Looking fly, gorgeous, yet still booty shaking in all those accompanying music videos! Fierce Koda, FIERCE!

Track list (Bold means best tracks)

  1. W FACE
  2. Ultraviolet
  3. Insane
  4. Damn real ~Liam’s favorite~
  5. Heartless
  6. Bassline
  7. Shhh!
  8. Bangarang
  9. Wicked Girls
  10. Cupcake (feat. AKLO)

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