Ayumi Hamasaki: ‘Memorial Address’ – EP Review

memorial_address

Released: December 17, 2003

As a long and proud fan of Ms. Hamasaki, I’ve always delved into her albums and singles head first and enjoyed the sounds she produces. Shucks, to be honest, it’s like my birthday when she releases new material! But it’s always been an occasion of “damn gurl, is this record pretty legit or nah?” Here’s the thing, her music is always on fleek; the material is well produced and she gives it her all with the songwriting and emotional deliveries, but most tracks seem like fillers and don’t necessarily progress to new highs like she use to. 

I stumbled against Memorial Address after discovering the diva (yes, that was a few years ago), and may I say this is probably her most well-served offering probably in her career. Although I favour LoveppearsI Am…, and Next Level as her more cohesive and game-changing albums, the likes of Memorial Address is pretty rare because of it’s shorter amount of tracks and tight suspension… which to me is a go to. The things I love about her music is generally the friendly and gloriously energetic vibe, which shines on the sparkly numbers “Angel’s Song” and “Greatful Days”. I tell you right now, these two tracks are boppers on the J-land dancefloor! Plus, the bouncy synths and fast-paced rhythm are typical Ayu-chan, so it will be hard to feel disappointed.

But what I absolutely LIVE for is her edgier and darker tracks, which is exemplified a lot on the heavy-rock anthem “Because of You”, and the R&B-influenced “Ourselves”. I generally call it a “Dirty Glamour”, because no matter how gritty and over-the-top mess her sounds can be, there is always the right amount of polish and vibrancy to keep the tracks interesting and entertaining (take “Ourselves” for example… I dare you). The following three songs; “Hanabi: Episode II”, “No way to say” and “Forgiveness” are the quintessential J-pop ballads that are spread out on every damn Ayu record, but the arrangement here works cohesively than others; the first is heavy-heart rock-edge, the second is a little more wintry with a R&B feel, and the latter is complete orchestral realness. I have to be honest and say that the closing number, which is the titular track, wasn’t the most impressive piece on the record, but the amount of emotions and deliveries on the track is very relatable and will undeniably latch hooks on peoples heart.

For every J-pop lover out there, you need to have Memorial Address as an essential record to your collection. Not only is the material cohesive and timeless, but it showcased the maturity and savviness of Ms. Ayumi Hamasaki as a singer, songwriter and performer, which has been a very rare occasion in her future music. The sound comes off a lot more darker and stronger than any of her releases before, so there is no point in missing out on Memorial Address, even if it’s nearly 15 bloody years-old! A timeless collection that I hope is re-invented again, and was the last shining moment of Ayu’s career (in my opinion, so no shade).

Track list (Bold means best tracks):

  1. ANGEL’S SONG ~Liam’s favourite~
  2. Greatful Days
  3. Because of You
  4. ourselves ~Liam’s favourite~
  5. HANABI: Episode II
  6. forgiveness
  7. Memorial address (take #2)

5

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