Ai Kotoba (VOICE)
Ai Kotoba (VOICE) was Maki Goto’s 5th studio album, 1st under avex. It was released on November 2, 2011 and reached no. 8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts with 7,213 copies sold. It was released in a limited 2CD+DVD edition, a CD+DVD edition, and finally a CD-Only edition.
1. What is LOVE
2. Get Your Way
5. Ai Kotoba
I can’t remember when she officially transferred to avex, but it’s been a good amount of time. She started by releasing a mini-album under the name SWEET BLACK feat. Maki Goto, and then a few mini-albums under her name Maki Goto, but now she’s finally released a proper studio album! This is probably one of my most anticipated albums of the year, just because it’s her first studio album in years, and because it’s her latest release before her indefinite hiatus.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this album features quite a few tracks from her mini-albums, so not everything is entirely new. Also included on the 2CD+2DVD edition was a collaboration disk, which basically contains her SWEET BLACK stuff and a few other tracks, none of which are new. Prior to the album’s release she also released two digital sings, which are just phenomenal, so there aren’t really all that many new tracks, but still enough to hold us over for a while.
Kicking off the album is one of the digital singles she released prior to the album. What is LOVE instantly became one of my newest favorite tracks the moment I heard it. Characterized by aggressive and edgy synth riffs, along with vocal distortions and some banging percussion, it’s easily one of the most infectious tracks on the album. I was also amazed as to how good her English was, and how well it sounded in the song. While bordering on a cross between urban and dance music, it’s one hell of a track.
Up next is none other than the rockin’ Get Your Way. Despite being a rock song, one of the most notable things are Maki’s vocal distortions, they’re rather noticeable, but at least they sound cool. I can honestly say that this song is actually really good. It has a nice melody, killer beats, and a great hook.
YOU was the promo track for the album, even had a PV made for it. It starts off as a ballad in the beginning, a bit loud for your traditional ballad, but when the chorus begins, it transforms intro this outrageously amazing rock ballad. It’s nice that Maki’s vocals aren’t drowned out by the strings, guitars, or drums either; it gives you a chance to hear how good they are. And I particularly loved the bridge in this song, the guitar solo sounded so empowering. Just the overall sound of this song was spectacular. I loved the fusion of classical and rock elements; it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a song like this. After that ballad, we have another one, this time though, it’s the oriental flavored Tsukikage. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the title, but it turned out to be a lovely song. It has your typical pianos, classical strings, oriental strings (not sure what you call them), and some slightly magical/mystic sounds in the background. The slower arrangement was a nice change of pace, and it really gave you the opportunity to enjoy her vocals. Continuing the list of new tracks is none other than the titular track Ai Kotoba. It’s a fairly dramatic rock ballad. It features some killer guitar riffs, astounding percussion, and Gocchin’s signature sultry vocals.
Not what I expected at all, especially since it’s rather dark, but it’s an excellent track. And I’m not quite sure why, but EYES is right after the title track. While I love its upbeat and cheery sound, all the brass and dance beats make we wonder if it’s right to be placed after a rock ballad. Luckily, Paradise sounds just right, and fits right after the previous track. It sounds kinda naughty at times, and the dark synth riffs really put it over the top. It’s kinda catchy, which is good, but I don’t really think it gets all that exciting. Also somewhat is new is SCANDALOUS. This song too was released as a digital single, and for good reason too. It’s energetic, fierce, and infectious. The aggressive beats and synth really bring this track to life, not to mention Gocchin’s own sultry vocals, with some distortions as well.
It’s easy to sum up the next tracks because they were all released on mini-albums. First is the little club banging Houseki. Takes abit to get started, but it’s on heck of a song. Gocchin’s vocals are so clear and enjoyable, and the beats are out of this world. “Nee…“ does sounds nice, but it honestly doesn’t do much for me. It’s not a terrible ballad, but I honestly don’t care for it. Gocchin must have loved ONE, because Hanauta is the third track from that mini-album. It’s one of her better ballads, and it’s such a treat. The classical arrangement and her sweet vocals go so well together.
Finishing up the final new tracks is Believe. As as you might have guessed, this song too is a rock ballad. It actually reminds me a bit of Ayu’s rock ballads to be honest, but it still holds its own. It certainly commands a presence, and it’s superb quality. Finishing the entire album and keeping up with the rock music is Ashiato. Despite being a rock song, it’s quite up-beat, and it’s quite refreshing after hearing tons of ballads. Out of all of the previously featured tracks on the album, this is one of my favorites. Come to think of it, this was probably one of her first rock songs. I’m beginning to wonder how long she’ll keep this up.
For her first studio album in years, I’d say it’s a very solid release. I love the fact that she included some songs from her various mini-albums, although I don’t agree with all of the tracks selected. I love that she had some variety in this album, although most of it was rock flavored. I wish she had less ballads, and more energetic tracks, but I really can’t complain all that much. The majority of the tracks were impressive and I loved most of the them. She has a bit to go before she releases something that I really love, but this album is really a diamond in the rough. It just needs some polishing. And if you really don’t like this album all that much, give the collaborations disk a shot, it’s amazing.
Tsuchikage || What is LOVE || SCANDALOUS || Ashiato