VOICE was Mika Nakashima’s 6th studio album. It was released on November 26, 2008 and reached no. 1 on the Oricon Charts with 155,502 copies sold. In all this album has sold over 315,746+ copies. This is also her first album to chart at no. 1 since BEST in 2005.
2. SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ (DAISHI DANCE)
4. Eien no Uta
6. Anata ga Iru Kara
7. MY GENTLEMAN
8. TRUST YOUR YOICE
9. IT’S TOO LATE
10. I DON’T KNOW
11. SHUT UP
13. FLOWER OF TIME
Opening the album is the song that began it all, LIFE. It features a dazzling array of piano chords and the serene strings, along with some soft beats. However this song sounds like a pop song, especially since the music is fast paced. The chorus was without a doubt the most memorable thing, and the catchiest as well. I can’t think of a better way to open VOICE.
Continuing with the up-beat trend is the DAISHI DANCE version of SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~. This version still incorporates those classical elements like the original but instead of being a ballad, they’ve made it into an up-beat pop song. And after hearing LIFE again it does fit quite well. The beats were miraculously catchy as was the whole entire song really. I’m really glad to see that this version was featured on the album instead of the original, it keeps the flow going that’s for sure.
Appearing next is the funky FOCUS. It’s an energetic fusion of jazz and synth, an amazing fusion really. The blaring brass sounds amazing and the synth riffs sound so vibrant. The melody is infectious as is expected from this fast paced song. Mika’s vocals were amazing and sounded so full of life during the chorus. And I loved the “My focus is on you” line. And the ad-libbing at the end was great!
Bringing some smooth reggae vibes is Eien no Uta. This was probably the first song that turned me onto Mika so that’s why it’s always been one of my favorites. Despite the Jamaican guy’s vocals in the beginning the song is still very pristine and lovely. The gentle strings , the laid-back percussion, and the saxophone were really some of the wonderful highlights besides the electric guitar solo during the bridge. And although there wasn’t a lot of variety in the vocals I still love this song.
Bringing in a slight jazz vibe into the equation is ORION. This was the final single released prior to the album, and it was a good one. It’s laid-back a bit, but at the same time it’s a rather epic song. The electric guitars were soft yet still impressive and the acoustic arrangement was rather stunning. I especially loved it since Mika got a chance to display some of her softer vocals that weren’t so aggressive and rushed. Quite a magnificent addition to the album.
One of the newer songs on the album really isn’t so new, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy Anata ga Iru Kara. Apparently it was released as a digital single prior to the album’s release. There’s an impressive array of strings along with calming piano chords. And although it’s a little slow paced, it’s still a beautiful song. It’s not too exciting in the beginning but as the song progresses it gets a lot better and more powerful. The acoustics were great and the electric guitar was amazing, even though it was only present for a few parts. The vocals were very powerful and clear, perfection really. A unique ballad that’s certainly stunning.
Another of the new tracks is very acoustic based. MY GENTLEMAN is very similar to the previous track. It’s laid-back and features the acoustic guitar as the signature instrument. And although I do have to admit that Mika displays so crisp and pristine vocals, that’s the only good thing about the song. It doesn’t really change much, there’s hardly any variety for the most part. It’s nice, but mostly a filler.
Ending that trend of ballads is the up-beat TRUST YOUR YOICE. This song contrasts to some of the songs on the album as it has more of a pop feel to it. It has a rather energetic jazz piano along with the brass, percussion, and electric guitar. The occasional distorted vocals are great, even the background vocals sound nice. Mika’s of course sound amazing and really good. The English was surprisingly good, not too over the top or annoying. One of the best album tracks by far.
Again one of the b-sides makes its appearance, this time it’s IT’S TOO LATE. This song is pretty rock oriented and is even a bit reminiscent of either southern of country music, either way it’s pretty good. I personally loved the thumping guitar riffs, along with the piano chords. It’s pretty catchy as far as b-sides go.
Breaking the smooth flow are the collaboration songs, the first entitled I DON’T KNOW. I really didn’t feel like reviewing the next two songs mostly because they’re are on the album and there’s not much to say. This song is entirely all in English and features some rather aggressive and punky vocals from Mika. As much as I love the rock music and edgy vocals, it’s a little annoying and pointless really. Her English could have been better, but that’s a given with most Asian artists. This song is purely a filler track, nothing more.
The latter of the MICA 3 CHU songs is SHUT UP. This music is pretty rock oriented and it’s aggressive. It’s grudgy and very annoying, and quite pointless. It’s in English and that’s honestly what makes it worse. Besides the horrible vocals and Engrish. I didn’t care much for the melody either, it was so stale and dull, mediocre at best. It’s just a waste of space.
Still somewhat average yet not misplaced is conFusiOn. It does have that rock vibe and features some great instrumentals. The beginning gets off to a rocky start but during the chorus things get a little better. The melody is actually very catchy and the electric guitar is quite impressive. And with the rock vibe it does seem to fit very well with the previous tracks, except this is better. The vocals seemed to be overwhelmed a little by the guitar but other than that they were great. The beats were a little odd and out of place but great nonetheless.
One of the final new songs is FLOWER OF TIME. The relaxing jazz atmosphere is very present in this song. It has an almost club or lounge feel. The vocals were very great and went well with the light brass and occasional synth. The background vocals were so-so, not too impressive but they didn’t ruin the song. Although the song doesn’t get too interesting until the half-point the song is good. That being said though I do wish that it was a little shorter.
Closing the album is the title track Koe lit. Voice. It’s a majestic ballad that’s filled with the harmonious sounds of the strings and piano. Most notably is the strumming of the strings, which is very nice actually. The cello makes the song sound a little more powerful than it actually is, and at times can actually be bad since it overwhelms the vocals. However Mika’s vocals were very emotional and stunning. And like most of the songs, it does get better towards the end. It’s not my favorite song, but it’s still a somewhat flawless ending to Mika’s latest venture.
Overall Review: VOICE was smooth jazzy elegance! I must say that considering this is the first album from Mika that I’ve heard, I’m rather impressed. That being said there are some faults. For one, it relied too heavily on the b-sides. Second, the whole MICA 3 CHU was so stupid and so annoying, and it broke the nice flow. Lastly, the arrangement could have been a bit better, a little sporadic at times. The a-sides though were incredible. I just wish that there were more new material. Despite all of that, I still feel that overall it was a strong album. Worthy of being an album from Mika Nakashima.
Final Grade: 92B