Bitter & Sweet / BENI
Limited Edition

Bitter & Sweet / BENI
Regular Edition

Release Date: September 2, 2009

Track Listing

  1. Bitter & Sweet Intro
  2. Kiss Kiss Kiss
  3. Zutto Futari de
  4. Koi Kogarete
  5. Dakishimete feat. Dohzi-T
  6. Anything Goes!!
  7. Stardust
  8. Kira Kira
  9. Go On
  10. Shinjisasete
  11. Nice & Slow
  12. Stay
  13. Beautiful World
  14. Mou Nido to
  15. Kiss Kiss Kiss (DJ Hasebe Remix)

Review

BENI (a.k.a. Beni Arashiro) is a Pop/R&B singer formerly signed to Avex. Bitter & Sweet is her first album for Universal Music Japan and includes previously released singles Mou Nido to, Kiss Kiss Kiss, Koi Kogarete and Zutto Fuatri de.

I knew of BENI but have never really listened to any of her songs. It wasn’t until her collaboration with Dohzi-T that I actually started paying attention to her. The first thing I noticed about her was her voice. It’s so clear & it sounds like she can probably whip out a few diva notes without breaking a sweat. She also sounds more R&B than pop to me. Either way she has some impressive vocals.

This album itself is full of R&B/Pop crossover tracks that compliment BENI’s voice extremely well. I was glad to see collaboration with Dohzi-T (Dakishimete). Unlike their last song together (Mou Ichidou) which was a ballad, Dakishimete is a smooth, mid-tempo R&B track. It reminds me a bit of some 90’s U.K. R&B in a way. What I liked the most is that Dohzi-T’s verses made sense within the context of the song. I’m glad he didn’t “phone it in” like so many MC’s do in songs like this.

Stardust is an up-tempo pop track that sounds much like an Avex type production. Whether that’s intentional or not I don’t know but I don’t think it really matters. I didn’t mind that at all as I found it to be a catchy track.

Kira Kira is a sweet mid-tempo song driven with some nice delayed/reverberated keyboard work. I also noticed a very (& I mean very) slight dancehall swing to the song as well.  I have a feeling I’m probably in the minority of people who actually like this song.

It’s after Kira Kira that the album kind of falls apart. With the exception of Mou Nido to… a lot of the songs sounded similar to ones from the first half of the album or were just okay. I did like the beats on Nice & Slow but that wasn’t enough to salvage the song. The biggest offender was Stay. That song just sounded too much like a generic North American R&B song for my liking.

The bonus track here is the DJ Hasebe remix of Kiss Kiss Kiss. It was alright but nothing spectacular.  And that statement pretty much sums up my feelings about this album.  It was still decent for my first exposure to BENI’s music. Hopefully there’ll be less filler and/or more inspired songs on her next album.