Ayumi Hamasaki – Trouble Review

Ayumi Hamasaki Trouble CD Cover

Release Date: August 15, 2018

Track Listing

  1. We are the QUEENS
  2. aeternal
  3. WORDS
  4. W
  5. The way I am


Ayumi Hamasaki is a household name in the world of Japanese pop music. Having been in the industry for 20 years she has earned the status of icon and for many years fans have been eating up her releases with a passion.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine for Hamasaki as time has gone by. Her batch of releases from 2011 to 2016 charted well upon release but quickly started to drop in rank and sales numbers in subsequent weeks.

A combination of the loss of interest from the general public and her output failing to live up high expectations were a couple of factors that have contributed to her waning popularity. (Among other things)

It was probably telling of her current career trajectory that the nostalgia trip of 2016’s A BEST – 15th Anniversary Edition – had larger sales numbers than her newer original material that preceded it. With that in mind one of the more common questions when it came to Ayumi Hamasaki was to wonder if it would be best for her to retire rather than continue plodding on?

Yet she has soldiered on with fleeting glimpses of her past glory in her recent discography including 2015’s sixxxxxx and 2016’s M(A)DE IN JAPAN giving notice that she was not quite over the hill yet. Which brings us to her current mini-album TROUBLE, her only release in 2018 so far.

The energetic lead single We are the QUEENS along with the album cut W are prime examples that Hamasaki can still churn out impactful and catchy pop songs. Sadly those are the only two up-tempo tracks here. The remaining three songs on this mini-album are more subdued in comparison falling into her well practiced template for mid-tempo songs. Of the three the one that stands out the most is concert only single WORDS which has a melancholy Hamasaki emoting over a dramatic musical backdrop.

At just over 20 minutes TROUBLE is a very short but satisfying musical journey that may surprise those who have lost faith in Hamasaki’s ability to deliver quality music. In a way this feels like a bit of a throwback to better musical times. That might be enough to satisfy the casual listener into giving this mini-album a chance as her core fan base need no words when it comes to supporting her releases.

While she may never return to blazing the charts on a consistent basis or even make a comeback to the point of once again being an overwhelming force, it can be safe to say that TROUBLE shows Hamasaki still deserves some attention in today’s J-Pop landscape.

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