Re-kicking things off with AZU’s debut album, AS ONE. AZU is a Japanese R&B singer, usually known for her collaborations with fellow Japanese rapper, Seamo. Her stage name, AZU, is explained as “putting memories to all the words from A to Z and conveying them to U.”
Instrumental opening track that plays the same catchy tune over and over again.
Definitely a cheerful song and a good choice to open up the album with. The catchy tune from the previous track is played in the background as emphasis is given to AZU’s voice, a breathe of fresh air after listening to many stereotypical high pitched seiyuu belt out anime OP/ED songs. However, after listening to it after a few times, it begins to get redundant.
3. 時間よ止まれ feat. Seamo (Jikan Yo Tomare)
The real gem of this album and certainly one of my favorite tracks. Used as an ED song for the anime adaptation of the popular manga, タズラなKiss/Itazura na Kiss. It has a nice and soft little instrumental opening before Seamo begins to rap. AZU’s voice is wonderful for this track and brings out the emotions of this song. Seamo’s rapping parts are pleasant to listen to and I like how AZU’s voice can also be heard at the end of certain lines for a point of emphasis. The chorus is sung extremely well and the message of this song is clearly communicated across to the user as well.
4. YOU’RE MY ONLY SHININ’ STAR
This track is used as a break, being one of the slower ballad-type tracks. Similar to RAINBOW, this track is worth a few listens but it’s nothing that really stands out.
5. AS ONE
The titular track is finally heard! You would be expecting something over top (ex. ミュステリオン/Mysterion or FINAL MORATORIUM), but the listener is treated to another slow track. The guitar is nice and fits with the tempo of the song and the lyrics embody the meaning of the album. However, it does not deliver enough, being the main song of the album.
6. 最後の恋 (Saigo no Koi)
IMO, the most prominent R&B track of the album. Yet another slow song. By this point, one would probably be falling asleep and urged to skip this track as soon as the opening was heard.
The opening leaves you speculating whether you should skip past this track as well, but it does pick up considerably into another R&B track. The odd tune manages to garner attention until the song is in motion. The Engrish is certainly not spared (I literally laughed when I heard “besto furend” and “sanks a rot”). I feel like AZU’s voice was too weak in the song and feel like if she was louder and used more power, this track would be much better.
8. コイイロ (Koi Iro)
Finally, something that is louder than the hum of my PC. A quirky song, this song is nice after all the slower tracks you just sat through. The opening definitely leaves you with a hopeful feeling, however, I feel like the song does not deliver enough (similar to AS ONE). It does not go above and beyond. Though it is sill a good track, by the time you finish it, it leaves you with a dissatisfied feeling.
Oh no, the ballads are back again. This is a softer version of Saigo no Koi. It picks up a bit after a few good minutes into the song and is worth listening to. However, the thought of sitting through yet another ballad is horrifying enough for you to skip this track before you get to the good part of the song.
10. JEWEL SKY
I’m pretty sure by now, you’ve noticed AZU likes naming her English titled tracks in all caps. Anyway, this is a louder track with more Engrish and more bearable than the previous tracks. However, like many of the songs on this album, this is worth listening to a few times, as nothing really stands out.
11. FAMILY feat.カルテット+手裏剣ジェット+BRIDGET (Karutetto+Shuriken Jet)
Expecting another ballad track…unexpected (good) surprise heard instead! The help of the featured rappers certainly helps bring excitement into the song and this track sticks out among the countless ballads that you’ve already heard (or skipped). AZU isn’t really the star of this track but her voice serves as a good back-up to the rappers.
12. 君に詠む歌-PIANO VERSION- (Kimi Ni Yuma Uta)
As the end of the album, of course this track is a slow ballad. It is considerably better than the other songs though. AZU’s own voice has power toshines throughout the track and is not overpowered by the piano instrumental.
Final thoughts: A good debut album for AZU, but too filled with ballads that will make you fall asleep.
Grade: 77.5/110 = 70% C-