Album Review: Yuna Ito – “DREAM”

 Tracklist:
 1. love you
 2. 今でも会いたいよ...(Ima demo Aitai yo…; I Still Miss You…)
3. Brand New World
 4. 恋はgroovy×2
 (Koi wa groovy x2; Love is Groovy Groovy)
5.
trust you
 6. BAILA BAILA
 7. BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!!
 8. miss you
 9. LOVE MACHINE GUN
 10. No one else
 11. Body

Yuna Ito’s third album, Dream, was released on May 27, 2009. The album reached number 4 on the Oricon daily chart.

The opening track for this album is love you, an upbeat, jazzy song with a laid-back island feel. This song contains a lot of repetition, especially of the English sections which are pretty sizable. Yuna’s voice sounds pretty solid and she manages to keep up with the high energy level of the music. A nice way to start off.

今でも会いたいよ... is the answer song to the collaboration between Yuna and the Japanese reggae group Spontania, called 今でもずっと (Ima demo Zutto; Now and Forever). Spontania themselves make an appearance on this song. I’m a big fan of both versions because it combines ballad elements and R&B stylings. Yuna’s voice – not surprisingly – fits this genre very well, containing the perfect balance of strength and sentimentality. This is easily one of the better singles on the album.

I’ve come to like Brand New World a lot more since the first time I heard it on the trust you single. Sure, it’s not the deepest song Yuna’s ever done, but it sure is endearing. Like most of her songs, Brand New World contains about 50% Japanese lyrics and 50% English. I think that’s one of the things that makes it so fun.

Despite being one of the poorer singles in terms of sales, 恋はgroovy×2 undoubtedly the most enjoyable. Yuna’s voice is bold and fierce, although at times it walks the brink of screaming. The music is loud and blaring with a fairly noticeable Latin influence, and the Na na na sections are pretty catchy. Overall, I’d say this is a really fun song, even if Yuna does take it just a tad too far with the vocals sometimes.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – trust you is a gorgeous song. Period. And that’s not something you can say about most Gundam ending themes (with the exception of Mika Nakashima’s FIND THE WAY). The piano, the strings, the R&B beats and the background vocals all work in perfect synthesis to accentuate the clarity and strength of Yuna’s voice. I could go on and on about how much I love trust you, but I’ll sum it up in one final statement: it is magical.

BAILA BAILA is the most outright testament to Yuna Ito’s island upbringing since Mahaloha. Reggae is a genre Yuna hasn’t tried before, but this song was a pleasant surprise. The steel drums and trumpet accents make for a sunny, laid-back atmosphere, the kind you’d find on any tropical island. One of the nice things about Yuna’s vocals is that it doesn’t sound like she’s trying too hard, making it easy to slip into the breezy feeling of the song.

BREEEEEZIN!!!!!!! is such a fun song. It’s really irresistible. It’s been a whileYunaitoDreamcovercd since I’ve heard anything even remotely resembling surf music, so to hear Yuna singing it combined with a modern rock sound was a real treat. The auto-tuned vocal sections caught me off guard a bit, though.Part of me really wishes they’d have made a PV for this song, but I guess that’ll just have to be left to the listener’s imagination.

Another song with a distinctly beachy feel, miss you is by far the most nostalgic track on the album. Yuna delivers a heartbreaking vocal performance; she really makes you feel her longing. As one of the few real ballads on this album, miss you has an appropriate-but-not-overdone amount of sentimentality to it, something I really appreciate in Yuna’s singles and songs in general.

Whoa. LOVE MACHINE GUN rocks. That’s really the most I can say about this song. Yuna’s voice is sassy without being over the top, and the guitar and synth make for a really contemporary listening experience. After a couple listens, it kind of starts to sound like Take Me Away, the B-side from Yuna’s Truth single a couple years back. Anyway, this song is really good.

I like the acoustic calmness of No one else. It’s very relaxing.
And that’s where the positive critique for this song ends. I can sum up No one else in about two words: it’s boring.  I mean, we all know Yuna’s strength primarily lies in ballads, but this one is just a bit too bland. The English lyrics are startlingly cheesy – No one else can take your place, Only I can be the one for you – okay, we get it. If I were Yuna’s love interest in this song, I’d be a little creeped out. All I can say is that I’m glad this is the only genuinely snooze-worthy song on this album.

Clocking in at just over 10 minutes long, Body is by far the longest song we have here on Dream. But good news – it’s really good! There are definitely some sexual themes going on here, with lyrics like Do you want my body and Boy, you turn me on, but the mid-tempo beats and clapping in the background keep it classy.

At the end of Body, there’s groovyx2, a hidden instrumental that’s basically the English version of the original Japanese song (sung by Yuna’s alter-ego, Christine Ito). There’s really nothing new presented here other than the English lyrics.

Summary: First of all, a Yuna Ito album in which it takes until the 5th track to get to the first ballad is remarkable in and of itself. In comparison to her other releases, Dream contains way more upbeat songs and way less ballads, which is mostly a good thing. None of the lively tracks are notably sub par, and two out of the three ballads are truly excellent. This album brings Yuna one step closer to finding that perfect balance she’s been looking for, and is definitely her strongest album yet.

Album Grade: A

 

4 thoughts on “Album Review: Yuna Ito – “DREAM”

  1. I never seriously listened to Yuna Ito before, but I’ll definitely give this album a listen after reading your praise! Great review!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s