Review by David Cirone
URBANGARDE’s musical style and subject matter are so diverse to begin with, it was hard to predict what direction vocalist Yoko Hamasaki would choose when she announced her solo project, Blue Forest. While URBANGARDE’s albums focus on social ills and the troubles of “sick people” everywhere, Hamasaki leans heavily on affairs of the heart, and the disappointments and dreams that emerge from romance.
Blue Forest opens with the synth-pop “Garasu no beddo (Bed of Glass)”, confidently singing about longing for her lover’s touch. The theme of unfulfilled love continues in the delicate “Amaoto wa Chopin no Shirabe (I Like Chopin)” and the fiercely heartbreaking “Angel Suffocation”.
“Dare Yori Suki Na Noni” is a standout number, in which Hamasaki delivers a beautiful performance of Toko Furuuchi’s 1996 hit. It’s a brave move, and Hamasaki adds a modern tone while keeping the mature sincerity that made the original so remarkable. Modest club dance number “Forever Us” highlights Hamasaki’s love of French Pop, as does “Lost Blue”, where she finds strength after a love affair that began and ended all too quickly.
Hamasaki produced this album herself, and wrote the lyrics independently of her usual collaboration with URBANGARDE’s Temma Matsunaga. Following her outstanding work in last year’s URBANGARDE album, Showa 90, fans of her work will feel a familiar strength in Hamasaki’s delivery, but, free of delivering URBANGARDE’s message-heavy themes, Hamasaki gets to portray more warmth, feminiity, and true emotion in Blue Forest.
1. Garasu no beddo (Bed of Glass)
2. Amaoto wa Chopin no Shirabe (I Like Chopin)
3. ANGEL SUFFOCATION
4. Dare Yori Suki Na Noni
5. Forever Us
7. Lost Blue
Buy it at CD Japan!