Heart Station is Hikaru Utada’s 5th Japanese album (7th overall) & was released on March 19, 2008. There are 13 tracks on this album, 4 which have been previously released (Boku wa Kuma, Flavor Of Life, Beautiful World / Kiss & Cry, Heart Station / Stay Gold) & 1 re-cut single (Prisoner Of Love) released on May 21, 2008.
This album continues the experimental sound set by her previous disc Ultra Blue but in a more commercial friendly manner. Beautiful World is a prime example. It sounds like it could have gone in a completely different direction, like all moody & airy. Instead it has an up tempo catchy pop beat. The melodic elements like the piano, strings & rhythmic synth give the song a feeling of sadness that counteracts the beat.
Other songs (Kiss & Cry, Prisoner Of Love) sound like throw backs to her R&B days. Kiss & Cry has a very strong percussion section led by the booming kick drum & high pitched cymbals. It’s also got some slick synth work (kind of sounds like a PPG). It’s a very catchy track. The sample at the beginning sounds like it might be from a Godzilla movie.
Flavor Of Life –Ballad Version- sounds like any other sappy love song. The arrangement & Utada’s vocals are what make this song better than generic schlock it could have been. But it has special meaning for me since it reminds me of my first trip to Japan. I heard this song every morning on MTV & it’s pretty much burned into my brain.
This is coming from a strictly North American point of view, but I find it weird that I was able to hear half the album through single releases. (The CD single format was phased out here many moons ago.) It was nice to have an idea of what I was in for in regards to this album.
This is totally worth picking up, or downloading (legally of course). Whatever method works for you.