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UNLOCKED – The Verdict

Ok, so I have finally managed to fully listen to Meisa Kuroki’s second album, UNLOCKED! When the digests for the record came out, I was left unimpressed. Even though basing opinions on 2 second snippets is a bad habit, it inevitably happens for any new song preview I hear. However, after hearing longer previews I was very interested in this effort. While musically it’s very similar to MAGAZINE, I think it’s a much more cohesive and enjoyable effort. The A sides were really on point this time around, and the album tracks complement each other marvelously. This time I shall take more time to review the tracks individually- so, here goes!

1. Hit the Road – This is the one song that I have not been able to like. The track honestly is messy and the chorus is rather annoying. Honestly wish another song or an intro was used here. This is also the track that put me in the unfavorable frame of mind for the whole album in the first place. It’s a bad seed!

2. Shake it Out – I was not a fan of this when I first heard the preview. The repetitiveness deterred me for quite a while, until I heard more of the track. Now it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album! Funny how that happens… I love the energy of this track and have found it is the most prone out of all the songs to get stuck in your head.

3. Wired Life – Best. Meisa. A side. Ever. This song is just so awesome, it pretty much trumps everything else. It’s absolutely perfect – the flow, the beat, the lyrics, everything! It also comes with a kick ass PV, which only increases its epicness.

4. One More Drama – Ok, this took the longest to win me over. The whole thing seemed blah to me for the longest time- well, besides the epic Latin opening. Finally I got into it, and I think it’s a pretty damn good single. It’s a different sound for her, and that’s a nice change- considering she rarely deviates from her style. Definitely a great tune!

5. Take Me Away – Love the fluidity of this song. It’s slower, yet has a big impact. Probably one of the most catchy tracks on here. It’s a very nice mellowing agent after One More Drama and works well here. Great song!

6. Flash Light – Time for the Beni rip off track! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice song- it just makes me instantly flash to Beni every time I hear it. This has all the instrumental elements of a standard Beni track. Musically it almost sounds exactly like her single ‘Darlin.’ I guess this is more of a problem for me because Beni uses these sounds in her songs so often, I’ve grown quite tired of it. So, my enjoyment for this track is considerably lessened.

7. Woman’s Worth – Another REALLY infectious song. This won me over when she released the teaser for it forever ago. I think it came together rather well, even though it does succumb to lyric flow weirdness here and there. The most annoying part for me is when she has those stretched-out verses at the beginning and after the chorus: ‘OOOOOOOOOH log into the reeeeeal world!’ Once you get passed that, it’s a great song.

8. Breeze Out – Pretty awesome. I find though that I can’t listen to it as much as some of her other songs. Not that it’s bad, it doesn’t have as much of a lasting replay value for me. Sometimes it sounds fresh, but it can become rather stale quickly. I think it complements Woman’s Worth very well. My main problem here is they stuck these 2 tracks together, since they were already together like this on her double A side.

9. LAST CODE – One of my favorites of the album! The vibe is ridiculously awesome and it’s just really groove-able! Not much else to say…😛

10. Happy to be Me – Another very nice track. It matches the energy of Take Me Away and to me sounds awesome. I think it’s placement is great, as it disperses the energy of LAST CODE and the next song, PARADE.

11. PARADE – AAAAAH! Good grief, this track is amazing! Even though I initially thought the chorus transitioned weird, it actually works well. My only complaint is her voice in some parts. A couple parts of the chorus have a case of Woman’s Worth syndrome, aka stretched-out ‘world logging.’

12. S.OS. – Watashi Sangasanaide Kudasai – Damn, that’s a mouthful! It’s a good listen, but it’s frantic awkwardness knocks it down a bit. I think it could have done without the trumpets and all the fanfare. Her vocals also aren’t the best here either. My second least favorite of the record…

13. UPGRADE U! – The B side to Wired Life, this track also kicks butt! It’s much more peppy pop, but is very well done. Glad it pushed its way into the track list!

14. aimai de zeitaku na yokubou – So, like on MAGAZINE, she closes out UNLOCKED with a ballad-esque tune. It’s quite lovely and is a nice conclusion to the whole album. Well done.

So, there’s my track-by-track review. I hope it wasn’t too agonizing to read! I really did enjoy this album, and I think it’s a great follow up from her last record. I’m very pleased I actually ended up liking this a lot, considering I was indifferent to it a month ago. Changing opinion for the win!

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