February 23rd, 2012
Release Date: February 22, 2012
Berryz Koubou’s 8th album is the 2nd release of 2012 from Hello! Project and follows hot on the heels of C-ute’s 7th album released earlier in February.
There are 2 questions to ask with the first being does this outclass their fellow “kids” group counterpart’s effort? Second would be to wonder if Berryz music matures as the members get ever closer to the elderly years of their 20′s?
After giving the entire thing a listen Ai no Album 8 is definitely the winner in the battle of the “kids” groups. Not by much, I mean it’s pretty much the same stuff we can expect from Berryz (& Hello! Project) these days. I consider 6th Otakebi to be the best Berryz album since most of them became of age (where I live) and while this comes close, it’s not exactly at that level of perfection.
Unlike C-ute there was no lowered bar of expectation (for me) so even if this album were full of auto-tuned K-Pop rip-offs I would still have given it a positive review. Speaking of auto-tune. I guess some will probably not like Shy Boy too much because that track is swimming in it. I found no difference from Buono!’s Partenza in that respect.
I guess your view will depend on how much your bias against auto-tune is blinding you from recognizing a decent song. There are times when the effect is tastefully applied that it works. Don’t let some talentless hacks who abuse the hell out of it ruin any other song that uses the effect for you.
Other songs to give your attention to include the Ongaku Gatas sound-a-like Mythology ~Ai no Album~, the overly genki Because Happiness and the uncharacteristic R&B type ballad Renai Moyou. Yes, Berryz other than Risako or Shimizu Saki try R&B-lite.
The one thing to note here is that there are no solos whatsoever on this album. Much like previous outings the group is split into smaller teams to take on certain songs. Kind of disappointing if you were expecting your favorite to belt out a tune & get all diva on your ass but it’s been the M.O. for Berryz for a while so it’s not exactly a shock.
In the end this was an improvement over 7 Berryz Times. While that album was some quality stuff it was an inconsistent listen in regards to pacing from beginning to end. Ai no Album 8 managed to rectify that rather nicely. This will be a no brainer for hardcore Berryz or Hello! Project fans in general, and to even tell them to get this is like preaching to the converted.
Instead this might work better for those who are on the fence about certain groups like the schizophrenia that has become Morning Musume, and want an alternative that actually has an idea what their identity might be.
Ai no Album 8 (Regular Edition)
Ai no Album 8 (Limited Edition)
Ai no Album 8 (Digital Download)