Album review: Crystal Kay - Color change!

Album review: Crystal Kay - Color change! | Random J Pop

Fresh from graduating from university and growing up as the fine piece of ass she is, the undisputed (in my eyes) princess of Japanese Pop 'n R&B that is Crystal Kay hits us with her eighth studio album titled Color change! Don't worry. Crystal doesn't plan on doing a Michael Jackson and bleaching her skin because Japanese folk think she's too dark. It's just a term to explain her new stage in life. I'm mad I'm not in this new stage of her life with her, but I stay loving her music and welcome her Color change!, as should you!

Color change! could not kick off any better than with the full on pop assault that is "Namida no saki ni", fusing pop and rock, and not sounding miles away from the sound that Dr. Luke gave Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and the Sugababes a couple of years ago. It's unlike anything Crystal has done before and for this reason the song rocks. (Literally!) It's short, catchy and sweet. Too bad it tanked on the Oricon charts. "One" has Crystal slipping into more of what she's done before: guitars, orchestrated strings, slick harmonies and a killer hook. "One" never fails to fall sweet on the ears and make you smile. A stellar song. Fans of "Konna ni chikaku de...", "Anata no soba de" and "Escalator" will fall for this song big time. As with "Namida no saki ni" it's too bad this song didn't burn up a chart and only 12 people in the whole of Japan bothered to legally download it. "Good times" throws it right back to the 80's and is a stomper of a song. As always Crystal comes correct with the vocals and harmonies. This was a song I didn't like at first, but it grew on me in a big way after a few repeated listens. I'm still not 100% in love with the chorus, but the verses are blazing hot.

Whilst the album opens well, things fall off a little in the middle - with a couple of tracks lingering dangerously to mediocrity. "Help me out" sounds like "Anata no soba de", almost too much like it. It's a nice song, but it does feel recycled and throwaway. Crystal brings a sexy slow jam to the table in the form of "Itoshiihito" and let me tell you this: love can get made to this song, it's that smooth and sexy. Those who dug "Telepathy" from Call me miss... will definitely fall for this song. There are bitches in America who wish they could get songs as hot as this and sound as good as Crystal does. "Kaerimichi" is the albums' big ballad and it's really nice. It showcases that Crystal can hold a big ballad, although she has nothing to prove after the stand out "Kitto eien ni" from All yours. The music is beautiful, as is Crystal's voice. A film studio, game development studio or TV broadcast company need to snap this up as a theme song, because it really is moving and does a stellar job of evoking a mood. Crystal falls off with "Toki no kakera". The song is some out dated sounding bullshit and does Crystal no favours. I'd expect a song like this from a Johnny's or BoA, but not Crystal. She should've left this song on the laptop of whoever produced it. This song would've been okay on Shining, but on this album it feels all kinds of wrong.

Just when it seems the alum has nothing brand new to bring the table other than "Namida no saki ni", things pick up towards the end and the bangers start to roll out. "Time goes by" is your typical feel good song with its guitars and harpsichords. You can't help but smile as you listen to this song as it's so happy-go-lucky and Crystal sounds so sweet on it. Definitely to bump in the car. "I can't wait" is absolute fire! Funky to the eyeballs with its reggae inspired bounce and ♪ Way-oh! Way-oh! ♪  chants. Just when I thought Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis had become a couple of washed up producers, they lace Crystal with this hot ass song. It's frenetic beat is very reminiscent of Janet Jackson's "Doesn't really matter", only 10 times hotter. Crystal's vocals are so on point it's ridiculous. Her ♪ Hey ♪'s which switch channels from left to right throughout the song are a great touch and her ad-libs at the end just seal the deal. Lead single from the mini album of the same name "Shining" also makes an appearance on this album. It's a nice song, but nothing special and something new in it's place would've been better. I would've taken B-sides "Girl move on" and "Suki" over it.

Crystal goes all electro pop with the Bloodshy & Avant produced "It's a crime" and the song is killer! (Pun fully intended). The song sports the same electro, digitised bounce that the production duo have been dishing out to many ladies as of late. The difference being that Crystal can actually sing and she still sounds like herself and not Microsoft Sam as Britney did om Bloodshy & Avant's productions on Blackout. "It's a crime" stands out because it has Crystal working a completely new sound that she has never done before - and because of it the song feels like a breath of fresh air, even though other artists have done the whole euro-pop, auto tuned laced vocals before. My only criticism to the song is that Crystal's vocals takes a back seat to the over-production and intricate mixing which is a shame. Allowing her to have ad-libbed, done some vocal runs and do the harmonies herself instead of pitching her vocals to various keys would've had Crystal own the song more. But it's still an cracker of a song that you'll find yourself playing over and over because it's just fine tuned into being a near perfect song. It gets major brownie points for shifting Crystal's style in a completely new direction. If Crystal was ever to make an attempt to break into the west, this song would make a good emissary. "History" is a surprise end to the album because it's not what you'd expect Crystal to cap off the album with. "History" sounds similar, yet like a polar opposite to album opener "Namida no saki ni". It has the same bubblegum pop sound with rock undertones, but is darker in mood and slower in pace. The production is insane and ranks as one of my album faves because I never expected Crystal to drop a track like this. The whole vibe of this song is just great.

Color change! is a solid album, but may dishearten fans who were excited about the change in direction that "Namida no saki ni" seemed to herald. The album doesn't have a flat out rubbish song, but there a few underwhelming songs that have you thinking to yourself that perhaps Crystal could've done better. I feel Color change! was the album where Crystal should've come with something different throughout, as opposed to falling back onto a sound she's pretty much honed and perfected over the course of her past two albums. As a result you find yourself feeling quite unfulfilled after you've played through the whole album. It doesn't help that the most impactful songs which showcase a much welcomed shift in Crystal's sound do not kick in until the album is 4 tracks from ending. "I can't wait", "It's a crime" and "History" definitely should've been within the first four tracks as opposed to the final four.

Crystal Kay is still an amazing talent, with a beautiful voice and this album is definitely worth buying. It sports a quality of music which shits over the past 3 albums that the likes of B.Oa and Kumi 'All my shit sounds exactly the same' Koda have served up. It doesn't deliver the shift in sound and experimentation that her lead single or album title lead you on to believe it will; but it's still a solid album which cements Crystal Kay is STILL that chick. Kuri fans will dig this album and those new to her (particularly those in the West) will find something to like here. All yours still ranks as her best, but Color change! is a solid addition to her discography.

RATING: 7 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Namida no saki ni | 涙のさきに
■ One
■ Good times
■ Itoshiihito
■ Kaerimichi | 帰り道
■ I can't wait
■ Shining
■ It's a crime ★ J's fave
■ History

Comments

  1. I'm excited to hear now! :D

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  2. Yes, J... I enjoyed the tracks "Good Times", "Itoshiihito" and "History" the most of all on the album. Paired with All Yours, it's fantastic mood music, and makes me wish I understood what the fuck she was sayin!

    Plus, it kinda makes me wish I was drifting down a dark empty Tokyo street... or chillin with some hot Japanese chick in a small-ass apartment.

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  3. There were times with her last album were I wished I knew what she was saying, but now I think the Japanese a big part of her charm...along with her being hot, having a good voice, and some of the catchiest choruses I've ever heard, lol.

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  4. Yes, yes, yes. "It's a crime" ftw, and "ITOSHIIHITO" for the baby-making.

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  5. "growing up as the fine piece of ass she is"

    What a great way to start a post xD

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