Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

I Kill My Heart

Tommy Heavenly6‘s 3rd album
29th April 2009

Tommy heavenly6 is my favorite of Tomoko Kawase’s projects, followed by the brilliant green. I’m not all that fond of Tommy february6, though it kind of reminds me a bit of Nana Kitade. Sadly, all of Tomoko’s projects were recently dropped by Sony, along with a few other artists like Sowelu. Doesn’t make any sense to me considering the popularity of her numerous anime tie-ins (“Pray” for Gintama, “Paper Moon” for SOUL EATER, “Unlimited Sky” for Gundam 00), but whatever… business is business? Sowelu just signed with Avex, but no word on Tomoko yet as far as I know. I don’t really doubt that she has a lot of options though. Regardless, this album was the latest and last released by Sony in late April. I only just got my hands on it, but here we go~.

TRACK 01: Wait For Me There (YouTube it)
Distorted, kinda dark sorta intro. Vocals start plainly, but it picks up nicely — has a good beat. Some pretty awkward sounding Engrish, but Tomoko’s voice is confident and smooth. Sometimes I like to just pretend that she isn’t butchering a language she doesn’t know that well. The words become less important than the sound and the emotion, and this song has a very relaxed, feel-good mood to be. Did she just say, “Let’s have some tea”? Some interesting vocal overlaps in the bridge, though I don’t think this is her best example of harmony. Song ends as smoothly and plainly as it starts. All around not a bad go, but not all that interesting either.

TRACK 02: Leaving You
Generic opening. Quiet, contemplative vocal intro. Feels very thoughtful. Percussion picks up nicely, if a bit simply — really diggin’ the melody here. Ohh… not too fond of the sounds in the chorus. The pitch on the high notes feel awkward and almost unintentional. Thankfully, the chorus is pretty short. Second verse has the same innocent, thoughtful mood as the first, but it’s pretty short too. Back to the chorus… and a third verse? The mood the vocals make me visualize Tomoko strolling through a park or something. Bridge is really nice — nothing amazing, but nice. Next chorus sounds quite a bit less awkward. There’s minimal Engrish in this song; definitely feel like that’s a plus. Smooth outro, fading distortion.

TRACK 03: Do You Know My Heart
Can an intro be calm and upbeat at the same time? Feels like another “stroll through the park” song to me. Vocals are very cheerful, maybe relaxing. Kind of like… the first day of summer feeling. Chorus has weird Engrish… most of it is pretty decipherable, and there are no “don’t scary”‘s at the very least. Mood doesn’t really seem to fluctuate as we go though, and I’m starting to get tired of the carefree cheerfulness. Second chorus is just as awkward as the first. I have a hard time describing Tomoko’s Engrish as anything other than “awkward,” huh? Awkward Engrish leads into outro and it ends pretty quickly after that.

TRACK 04: Sad End To A Fairy Tale
A more sad kind of intro. Good. More of the thoughtfulness from “Leaving You.” I think the guitar in this. Like the bridge from the first verse to the chorus too, though the chorus itself was kind of short and plain. Hm, as nice and calm as the music is so far, I’m really getting bored quickly — there doesn’t seem to be very much in the way of real energy — just a lot of cuteness and coyness? Where is the forcefulness? Where is the spark? Bridge has more of the nice guitar and some pretty sustained notes. Bridge repeats the same kind of mood and lackluster energy; what I can understand of the lyrics are pretty uninspiring too. Slow outro, buzz out to end.

TRACK 05: Shut Up
More energetic energy… some more serious sounding vocals. Less cute anyway. Melody is catchy, but somewhat repetitive. Chorus brings back the happy j-poppy feeling. Second verse returns to the lower register, but it doesn’t last long. Does “lower” mean “more serious”? Not necessarily, but all of her higher notes and melodies are starting to blur here. The best thing about this song is probably it’s repetitive drill, which might get annoying after a while, but it’s at least memorable. This is a really short song though — only 2:36. Ends suddenly.

TRACK 06: Flower Crown
Neat bass intro. Another, kind-of-the-same-thoughtful vocal intro. Bass continues to be awesome. Vocals, melody, and mood, not so much. Well, okay, the mood is definitely darker than before. Makes me think we’re sneaking up on someone. Chorus has some awkward hooks in the tune, like the pitch is off again. Some of the Engrish leading into the bridge is kind of lulzy. Man, this tempo is putting me to sleep. I want need some of the much more energetic stuff, c’mon…

TRACK 07: Surely
Upbeat, but not upbeat enough! Vocals are soft again, happy and contemplative. God, I just want some variation. T_T These vocals are really cute though… chorus loses it, but the melody is calming. More strolling in a park music. Perhaps playing frisbee. Really, this song could be an insert to any cheesy, happy montage in a movie or series. It’s very charming in that way. I kind of wish it wasn’t so late in the album — I kind of think I’d be more happy with it if I weren’t so worn with this mood already. The bridge is really sweet. Reintroduction of the vocals don’t seem to fit that well, but gaw, Tomoko’s voice is so cute. D: I don’t even think she’s trying to be. Ending is kind of awkward and sudden…

TRACK 08: Gonna Change My Way Of Life (YouTube it)
Generic kind of opening, though it does have some interesting buzzing. Chorus has a lot of Engrish — automatically awkward sounding, though not too terrible, I guess. This song has a much more forceful melody, especially at the end. Nothing else to really say though…

TRACK 09: Playground (YouTube it)
Hm, immediate vocal intro. Much more energetic! The vocals still seem a bit on the tame side, but the emotion feels clearer. I like the tempo here a lot, and the lyrics string together very well! The Engrish is the best I’ve heard on the entire album, and for once, they aren’t awkward! They actually work pretty well and integrate neatly with the Japanese. Some nice guitar and sustained vocals leading into the bridge — bridge has a good guitar solo. Vocals ease back in nicely. Once again, the Engrish here is pretty decent. :O I think this is my favorite song on the album so far. Very well done. Sudden ending though.

TRACK 10: Things I Can Do
Seems like we’re keeping the more upbeat tempo — nice intro. Vocals come in rather energetically; tone is still quite upbeat and thoughtful, but she seems much more into it. The melody is pretty nice; Engrish goes back to being a little awkward, but there isn’t that much of it. Really enjoying how the rest of the lyrics string together — keeps a good beat. Verses meld into choruses really well too. Tomoko definitely seems more into this song than many of the others. Final chorus stands out nicely after the bridge; the energy remains steady… ending is again sudden though.

TRACK 11: You Should Live In The Sunny Light (YouTube it)
Dark, slow intro. Vocals seem haunting. Never really picks up though. Very steady and kind of boring. Feels like we’re at a funeral service. Damn, it’s been half a song already? Nothing ever seems to change, and the guitar is kind of boring too. On another day, I might like this a lot better — it does have a very distinct mood, after all, and Tomoko’s vocals seem sincere at least — but after an entire album of less-than-stellar songs, I just kinda want it to be over. There’s very little in the way of landmarks in this song. I’m not sure where the verses are, where the choruses are — it’s especially hard since I don’t have lyrics in front of me. It ends like it begins, and I feel nothing.

OVERALL: This was a pretty disappointing album… I only really liked tracks #9 and #10, but even they’re nothing super outstanding. The rest of I Kill My Heart just seems like the same thing over and over again, and none of the songs seem to have the drive and energy that attracted me to Tommy heavenly6 in the first place. I’m also not sure why “Unlimited Sky” didn’t make it on this album. Instead, it was released with Tommy heavenly6’s compilation album that released in February. I suppose it’s a decent strategy to release new stuff on a compilation album to get more people to buy it, but at the same time, it kind of contradicts the definition of “compilation” album.

Then again, “Unlimited Sky”‘s mood would have clashed a lot with this album since it actually has the energy I’m looking for. Tommy heavenly6’s first, self-titled album is still my favorite. I’m not sure how well this album did on the Oricon charts, but if its performance reflects my opinion of it, then I guess that’s at least a reason for Sony to let go. Disappointing.

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  1. dotdash on June 8, 2009 3:45 am

    Sounds like the falling out with Sony was more due to a disagreement between the management company and the label than anything particularly to do with her sales. I was supposed to be interviewing Tomoko earlier this year when her Best Of… album came out but the label ended up having to pull all press because they couldn't contact her to arrange a time, so it sounds like at the very least communication between the label and management wasn't as free-flowing as it might be.

    Personally I always massively preferred the TF6 stuff, but then I'm an 80s new wave and synth geek so it struck a chord with me. Also, on a curious sidenote a friend of mine was in a couple of her promo videos and he says that "the back of her head is really flat".

  2. Kiriska on June 8, 2009 9:24 pm

    Agree that sales probably had little to do with getting dropped by Sony, but I do wonder whether there's a point at which an artist becomes a financial liability to a company.

    I think one of the reasons I like TH6 better is just because of the first love thing — it was the first of Tomoko Kawase's projects I'd heard and I immediately loved it, etc.