Released March 21, 2012

Track Listing

1. Party Queen
2. NaNaNa
3. Shake It♥
4. Taskebab
5. Call
6. Letter
7. Reminds Me
8. Return Road
9. Tell Me Why
10. A Cup of Tea
11. The Next LOVE
12. Eyes, Smoke, Magic
13. Serenade in A minor
14. How Beautiful You Are

Review

Party Queen marks Ayumi Hamasaki’s 13th album. After looking at the  covers for the various packages, it left me curious on what the direction this album would take. Initially, I wasn’t feeling it.

The album begins with the title track, Party Queen. This sets the tone for the first few songs, a tone I didn’t particularly enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with trying a new sound, but Ayu sounded uncomfortable doing a mix of electronic/pop rock music. I was worried that the entire album would have the same feeling.

Luckily, Ayu figures it out. From Call to the end, she strikes a balance of booming vocals, confidence and the rock-esque direction. I forgot never to doubt Ms. Ayumi Hamasaki. Curiously enough, the album seems to operate on a spectrum. At the beginning is the most extreme of the previously mentioned direction.

By the album’s end with How Beautiful You Are, we get a more classic Ayu vibe. The highlight of the album for me comes at The Next LOVE, where she puts on a great performance as a Jazz Singer in the same way IU did with L’amant, just more uptempo.

Disregard the first four tracks and possibly Eyes, Smoke, Magic. The rest of the album is quality Ayu, with just enough experimentation that indicates that she will be doing this for quite some time longer.

Party Queen (CD Only)

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Party Queen (CD+DVD)

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