TRICK was Koda Kumi’s 7th studio album. It was released on January 28, 2009 and reached no. 1 on the Oricon Charts with 253,346 copies sold. This makes it her lowest first week since secret back in 2005, this is probably due to more digital downloads and the decline in physical sales. It was released in two editions, a CD Only edition and a CD+2DVD edition. This album features a total of ten new songs, eleven including the bonus track featured on the CD+2DVD edition. The first DVD includes six music videos while the second DVD includes footage from “Dirty Ballroom: One Night Only” which was recorded on October 23, 2008.
1. INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK
3. show girl
4. Your Love
5. stay with me
6. This is not a love song
8. Bling Bling Bling feat. AK-69
9. That Ain’t Cool feat. Fergie
10. Hurry Up!
11. Moon Crying
12. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE
14. Ai no Kotoba
The album gets off to an explosive start with INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK. Following some background vocals, mostly girls talking and an announcer, things get a little more interesting. The music becomes more R&B & synth oriented with the heavy synth beats and claps, it’s actually intense. And Kuu’s vocals aren’t all that bad either. It’s one of her best openings, much better than Kingdom’s.
TABOO basically follows where the intro left off. This sultry sensation was released as the second single and is by far the best. It’s a rhythmic dance song that features heavy techno beats and distortions. But besides all of that, it also features an insane melody that’s the most infectious things she’s released to date. The vocals were great as usual, and they sounded so sexy. And the live performances were just incredible, and she looked good in all of them.
The first promotional track is up next and it’s called show girl. This was one of the two albums tracks that had a PV, and it actually was about a show girl. Moving on, after a listen you can hear why it was chosen to promote the album. It’s catchy and not too obnoxious. The tambourine beats and heavy synth beats were amazing as always, along with the brass and even the elephant trunk. And I have to admit that in this R&B song, Kuu’s vocals were excellent, not mediocre either. And the chorus was pretty light, which gave the song some variety. Although the ending was a little cheesy in my opinion with the brass and percussion I still like it.
One of the lighter songs on the album is Your Love. Theres an aroma of love surrounding this song. It’s pretty evident by the piano and the light beats. Not only that but Kuu’s vocals are pretty sweet and innocent, similar to anytime. The strings were sounded lovely during the chorus, but the chorus itself wasn’t all that catchy. It sounded very wonderful and such, but it’s just so simple and a little too sweet. The melody wasn’t really all that great, and the English didn’t help all that much either. This song is nice, but it’s not for me, perhaps I just need time.
Becoming a signature winter ballad is the regal stay with me. It’s a classical winter ballad filled with epic strings and enchanting vocals. The piano chords were nostalgic in a sense, and the beats gave the song a little edge. Overall I’d say that this is one of her most impressive songs to date.
I guess the title really says what this song is about, and one thing’s for sure This is not a love song. This mid-tempo track is pretty urban and modern as far as music goes. It features some heavy beats that are a little aggressive. The synth music is dark overall, and a little eerie. Kuu’s vocals weren’t really anything special, but I did love the ad-libbing in the song. I’d have to say that the melody wasn’t that memorable, and the fact that Kuu spoke Engrish didn’t help much either. The song did get better, but it was during the last minute. It’s a little disappointing for the most part.
Things begin to look up with Driving. I remember hearing the preview and I was blown away instantly. And apparently a lot of people feel that this is the best song on the album behind TABOO. The intro sets the tone of the song, which is synth / electronica. Although there were some vocals by a guy it wasn’t all that bad. The hypnotic beats were mostly techno oriented and thumping, catchy at the same town. As for the melody, well this time it’s about as catchy and as energetic as TABOO. The verses featured some nice vocals, and the distortions were nice. And the English wasn’t all that bad either, quite catchy really. The chorus was absolutely amazing. The up-beat dance music blasts away as the vocals, vocoder and all, mesmerize you; it’s pretty infectious overall. I really don’t think that Kuu has sung a song that features some many electronic and techno elements, the closest thing is TABOO. And the car driving at the very end was just awesome. This is the BEST song on the album, hands up!
The album sadly goes awry at Bling Bling Bling feat. AK-69. This song is a pathetic excuse for a hip-hop song. I really can’t take it all that seriously either. The percussion is okay, no problem with that, and the synth riffs weren’t too bad. What I had a problem with besides the R&B/Hip-Pop music was the English. It’s stereotypical hip-hop that’s so stupid. The lyrics are in English for the most part, with a little Japanese. But overall I find it to be repulsive and insulting. The sad thing is that during the performances, the crowd went wild.
Things get just a bit better with That Ain’t Cool feat. Fergie. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of this song, but I also don’t hate it. The music is good, and the melody is actually catchy. The one problem that I have with it is the fact that Kuu hardly sang. The worst part is that when she sang, it sounded so out of place, and it was obvious that English wasn’t her first language. Fergie had a bigger part of this song, and in the PV too. And the English lyrics were good, but so repetitive. I personally think that this song was just so advance Fergie’s career in Japan rather than Kuu’s.
One of the faster and by far more aggressive songs on the album is Hurry Up! This song has a strong rock vibe, prominently featuring the electric guitar and some great percussion. It’s also one of the fastest songs on the album, the tempo is just astonishing. I loved the vocal distortions throughout the song, but overall it does take a while for it to grow on you. Kuu’s English during the chorus could have been better, but it was still catchy. The background vocals weren’t all that pestering either, so that was nice. Oddly enough though one of my favorite parts was in between the second and final chorus. It might have been slower and a bit relaxed, but the vocals were great, and the synth music was perfect.
I guess initially Moon Crying really sounded astounding, but after the release of stay with me, it’s lost its touch. The piano chords are still as memorable and beautiful as ever, and the strings are just as powerful and flawless. And while I still love the melody of this song, I have to admit that it’s a little mediocre. It’s nowhere near as powerful as her winter ballads, but it will suffice. The song did get better though towards the end when there were more instruments. And I guess it would’ve helped if the vocals were a little stronger.
The second promotional track on the album is the joyous JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. This sweet song exhibits the strings, which aren’t all that just strong, but rather support the song. The music is a fusion of pop and maybe a little R&B. The strings oddly enough sounded great with the all the claps. The song is pretty mid-tempo and very smooth. This time around Kuu displayed some wonderful vocals that sounded happy and relaxed. The melody was actually catchy to some extent. The chorus featured English and it wasn’t bad either, it could use a little work but it’s pretty good. The lyrics are very happy, up-beat, and just sweet. This is really an adorable song, perfect for promoting the album.
Initially the beginning of Joyful reminded me of Joy To The World, but after hearing joyful again I realized that this would be different thankfully. The electric guitar that followed afterwards threw me off a little as to what this song would be. After a few listens it began to sound a little like WIND and Koi no Tsubomi. That being said it’s safe to say that the song is pretty up-beat and fun. The electric guitar is pretty strong, but so are the strings, and the synth riffs sounded splendid. I enjoyed the melody but I really couldn’t get into the chorus after the English, which killed the song a little. On the bright side Kuu’s vocals were pretty big and vibrant.
One of the few new ballads on this album is Ai no Kotoba lit. Words of Love. I have to say that I was expecting a lot of this song, and truthfully it didn’t really deliver. Sure the piano chords were majestic, and the strings were classical, but it’s always like that. And I did like the newer instruments featured like the electric guitar, which sounded a little jazz-like. Even with that though the song is just so average and mediocre at best. Perhaps if the melody was better and if she used more of her vocal talents it might have been different.
The final song on the album is the cover of The Shocking Blue’s hit song Venus. This was included on the CD+2DVD edition as a bonus track and was used in a Vise CM back in 2008, she also performed this song live during A-nation I believe. Like the original this song is sung in all English, or Engrish for Kuu. The music is a fusion of pop and rock. The electric guitars are blaring in full force in this song and the synth riffs were just incredible. The melody is infectious as always and makes for one catchy chorus. Her vocals were amazing, but I still wish her English was better. Still a fantastic closer for her 7th studio album.
Overall Review: TRICK was sexy circus magic! This album is just what Kuu needed. Some great fierce songs that really define Kuu as an artist and bring back her ero-kawaii image. The singles of the album were amazing, although MOON could have been better. A few of the songs were either infectious or aggressive which really made the album enjoyable. I did however enjoy a few of the more light-hearted songs on the album. Still there were a few songs on the album that were just plain stupid and pointless, and very repulsive. For the most part though I loved the album. Most of the more aggressive songs were on the first half of the album, while the lighter songs were towards the end, but I still think the arrangement could have been a bit better. Overall I still have to say that this is better than Kingdom in so many ways. This is one TRICK that everyone will want to play again and again!
Final Grade: 91B