Album Review: Kumi Koda - Feel My Mind

Album Review: Kumi Koda (η₯žη”° δΎ†ζœͺ子) - Feel My Mind | Random J Pop

Kumi Koda's third studio album Feel My Mind reminds me of Christina Aguilera's Stripped. Not in terms of its sound, but its energy, and even how she began to portray herself in her image. (Google the "Come With Me" cover art and tell me that ain't some Stripped album cover, X-Tina at the 2002 VMA's inspo). Feel My Mind is Kumi Koda starting to reclaim who she is as a Pop star, even if that Pop star is a lot like about five others and she's not 100% certain of the Pop star she even wants to be.

After stepping back from all of the songwriting on her previous album, Kumi picks up her pen again for this one. Grow Into One was Kumi Koda going where she felt the currents would take her. Feel My Mind is Kumi Koda going where she feels she should go, and forms the basis on which Kumi would build her image and sound.

Album Review: Kumi Koda (η₯žη”° δΎ†ζœͺ子) - Feel My Mind | Random J Pop

Feel My Mind relies far less on R&B leaning cuts than its predecessors Grow Into One and Affection, something which was probably a result of the success that Kumi Koda saw with the Final Fantasy X-2 famed song "Real Emotion". This style of Pop is what anchors Feel My Mind for the most part, mainly because these songs were the singles, and "Crazy 4 U" and "Come With Me" sit at either end of the album. R&B is still very much present on this album, but the sonics have shifted just as they had in the US at the time. 'The Harpsichord renaissance', which was popularised by Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins, with songs like Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" and Shek'spere with TLC's "No Scrubs" was coming to an end, branching off into two different styles: the millennium sound which was like the half-way house to EDM and more heavy hitting sounds which teetered into Hip-Hop territory. This is why "Rock Your Body" bangs so hard and has not a single harpsichord, and "Get Out The Way" sounds like Michael Jackson's "Unbreakable", which was Rodney Jerkins' take on something New Jack and Teddy Riley inspired, which in turn was an influence of Hip-Hop.

Kumi Koda reunites with J-R&B producer Daisuke Imai who gives her one of the albums best cuts and what is still one of Kumi Koda's best J-R&B bops "Rock Your Body". I can't listen to this song and not buss down. It's a fun song with a great groove behind it. Kumi Koda's vocals are hit and miss though. She sounds good generally, giving some really nice ad-libs and note fall-offs, but there are moments on the pre-chorus and chorus where she's like a janitor with a set of keys; trying to find the right one.

The problem with these J-R&B leaning songs here is that whilst they are good songs, they work because the production is good and the hooks are good. Kumi is somewhat of a non-factor. I wouldn't listen to any of them and say they're reflections of Kumi Koda's style. "Get Out Of The Way" sounds like Kumi doing karaoke to a Crystal Kay song during her Crystal Style and Call Me Miss... days and "Without Your Love" sounds like Namie Amuro during her Suite Chic phase. The formula for the J-R&B cuts work better than it did before; "Rock Your Body" is great, "Get Out The Way" is good, but "Break It Down" is fucking awful, and is once again Kumi Koda giving us a trash album opener.

Album Review: Kumi Koda (η₯žη”° δΎ†ζœͺ子) - Feel My Mind | Random J Pop

Whilst Feel My Mind's singles were all completely uptempo, the album features, which at this point is a trend, a really good ballad; "Hana". It's crazy to me that this wasn't made a single. Kumi definitely has a formula with ballads and it's worked every time thus far, and has served her well on future albums. There isn't a great deal new being offered with "Hana" that we didn't get with "Your Only One" from Grow Into One or "Your Song" from Affection. And it's not as good as either due to the song structure not quite flowing as well as it should. But it shows that Kumi Koda is capable of something that you don't get to see with her other songs on her albums. Consistency.

Feel My Mind falls into the same pitfalls as Affection and Grow Into One, which is that there is no consideration of creating a body of work and there is no regard for the sequencing of the songs. Having reviewed the preceding two albums and citing this as an issue, and it being an issue I've had with albums she'd released years after, I can see that this is more-than-likely going to be a thing with every album of hers. The only other thing I can say, is that there seems to be a formula with how these songs are sequenced, which is to open with trash, throw 'the Urban cuts' in the middle with a ballad and then close out with straight-up Pop. It doesn't work, and there's no flow whatsoever. But at least there is some kind of pattern at work. Not that it makes any difference.

Album Review: Kumi Koda (η₯žη”° δΎ†ζœͺ子) - Feel My Mind | Random J Pop

Kumi Koda's presence on Feel My Mind is what really sells the album. Her energy on Grow Into One was just what her music needed after the lackadaisical Affection. There's a sense of self-belief which bleeds through into the performances that she gives in these songs. Even the moments where her voice maybe isn't all that great, there is some conviction and a sense of freedom. And this is why Feel My Mind feels like it could be the arrival of Kumi Koda.

Kumi Koda doesn't quite have it all the way together on this album, and she's still trying to find her own lane, but she's shining a little brighter as a potential J-Pop star.

πŸ‘πŸΎ Some fun moments that will make the pussy pop
πŸ‘ŽπŸΎ The sequencing is still a mess


■ Crazy 4 U
■ Rock Your Body πŸ†
■ Talk To You
■ Hana
■ Sweet Love...
■ Gentle Words