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Yuna Ito’s 3rd album
27th May 2009

Yuna Ito's 3rd album: Dream
Sometimes I wish artists would come up with more interesting album names, but I guess this goes in perfect step with Yuna Ito’s previous two albums, Heart and Wish. Three singles were released ahead of Dream, but I’ve only heard “trust you” because it is one of my favorite theme songs ever. The second track, “今でも会いたいよ…” (“Ima demo aitaiyo…”),  is apparently an answer song to “今でもずっと” (“Ima demo zutto”) by Spontania feat. Yuna Ito, which I took the liberty of YouTubing before listening to this album, but that’s hardly enough to get a good impression of the duet pair and I doubt the fact that the second track here is an answer song will mean much to me. I’m more interested in finding out whether “love you,” “trust you,” and “miss you” will have any melodic or thematic relation to each other because that would be pretty awesome.

Anyway! First impressions, go~!

TRACK 01: love you
Very upbeat percussion intro! Vocals start off similarly perky and it doesn’t sound anything like “trust you,” lol. The melody sounds a bit haphazard and the transitions between Japanese and English don’t sound as smooth as they could be. The percussion is really repetitive and distracting, actually, and doesn’t fit every well with the vocals. The “I love you”s sound way casual and subsequently less meaningful. I really wish the percussion would let up — the drums are all over the place, there’s random bits of piano, and the cymbols kind of reset my train of thought every several measures. I’m having a really hard time distinguishing verses from chorus, which I only recognize from the haphazard “I love you”s. Bridge (?) slows down a bit, though the percussion doesn’t really let up. “I know you make me love you” just sounds incredibly awkward and Engrishy, which doesn’t fit since Yuna Ito’s English is generally very good. Song ends by fading away, kind of lame. Not a great way to start the album.

TRACK 02: 今でも会いたいよ...(Ima demo aitaiyo…) (feat. Spontania) (YouTube it)
Stars with energetic piano — a nice melody. Vocals start kind of typically… and with very typical-sounding lyrics as well. Tempo picks up though and Yuna’s voice is very sweet here. Spontania starts in with a steady support voice; I like it a lot actually. The high pitch of Yuna mixes really well with the rough rappish sounds of Spontania. Chorus sounds really nice; great, steady melody. Some nice lyricless vocals follows it. Second verse is sounding great too; lyrics are more interesting while retaining the same themes as before. Second chorus leads into a really great exchange between the two vocalists. This song actually sounds a lot better than the song its answering. Some beautiful sustained notes and piano accompanyment leading up to the ending, which is rather sudden.

TRACK 03: Brand New World (YouTube it)
Upbeat synth intro. I feel like I’ve heard this song before though I don’t think I have? Melody is very nostalgic and catchy — has a great beat to it. The background accompanyment reminds me a lot of Ayumi Hamasaki? Yuna Ito’s vocals are very unique though. The English and Japanese melt together much better here compared to the first track. This also feels kind of like a DDR song — the strong tempo beat in the back really compliments the vocals, which feel kind of relaxed despite the the pace. Bridge has a nice instrumental of the melody before Yuna’s vocals come back. Final chorus changes up lyrics a little and there are a lot of sustained notes and background vocals. Tempo slows slightly and music fades out very, very slowly to the end. (edit: this was apparently the B-side on the “trust you” single, so I have heard it before. Not sure why I forgot about it though; it’s a nice song.)

TRACK 04: Koi wa groovy x2
Sudden and perky mixed instrumental intro accompanied by “na na na”s. Vocals start off more demandingly — lyrics make a mention of “brand new world.” Chorus has more of the “na na na”s woven in between the lyrics; techno-sounding stuff in the back speeds up a little, sounds kind of chaotic. The intersperced “groovy”s sound a little odd, probably because it’s such an outdated term to me. Second verse has Japanese lyrics in the main vocals, but a lot of English in the backups: works pretty well. Bridge feels like the beginning of something big. “Na na na”s get kind of annoying in the last couple of choruses… I think this is a decent song, just not really my thing. Outro is nice though.

TRACK 05: trust you (YouTube it)
Same nice piano intro as the single version. I really love this melody. It’s very thoughtful and reminiscent. I love how smooth the lyrics flow together and the subdued feeling of Yuna’s voice until the chorus, which sounds particularly sincere. Hmm… tempo seems a bit sped up here though… Doesn’t feel as thoughtful or poignent as I remember. Track length is a second shorter than the single, but that can’t make much of a difference. Second verse sounds a little more delicate though. Despite my initial misgivings, the more I listen to the rest of this song, the more I like it. The lyrics still don’t flow as nicely as the first verse, but it doesn’t sound that bad anymore. The emotion is still very strong, especially at the end of the second chorus. The background echos in the bridge are kind of corny while the main vocals sound more meaningful. Third chorus is more of the same. Fourth chorus still features an awkward pitch change and the song is still on the long side… Ah, well. It’s still very pretty, and the piano outro sounds a bit longer!

Soft, melodic intro. Very odd to hear a Japanese song with Spanish incorporated in it. Vocals sound very playful, as does the music. First verse lyrics are English and Japanese. The chorus brings back the “baila baila,” but the rest is still English and Japanese. Everything blends nicely though. I feel like this song has the potential to be catchy, but I’m personally not getting into it that much. Sometimes the “baila baila” is followed by “hiya hiya,” I think… kind of corny-lame. Song slows down very quickly at the end and fades out.

Intro sounds beach-like. Oh, look, it’s a beach song. Very upbeat once the vocals start — sounds very playful and energetic. Lyrics flow together very well, English and Japanese are completely melted together. I’ll never stop appreciating when the languages blend so well that you can hardly tell at all. Chorus is cute; I don’t normally think of Yuna’s style as cute, but this song is cute. And happy. It’s a good beach song. Or party song. Or just feel good song. There’s a nice clapping beat in the background. Bridge has a bit of distortion, but it works well and the beat is still really nice and steady. Lyrics are cute. From the title, I wouldn’t have thought I’d like this song that much, but I actually really like this, lol. Outro has some nice background vocals and great guitar. Ending feels natural, if a bit sudden.

TRACK 08: miss you
Nice piano intro, tempo is on the fast side, but not too upbeat. Vocals sound passionate and thoughtful. Lyrics are kind of sweet. Once again, great interweaving of Japanese and English. Melody is very nice. Chorus feels nostalgic — this is a much better companion song to “trust you” than “”love you,” though I now doubt that they were written with each other in mind. Yuna’s voice is just really sincere and emotional sounding throughout and the piano helps maintain the mood. Gaaah, this chorus is awesome. Long Japanese verbs tend to sound really nice when they’re repeated and I think they work well lyrically as well. Beach sounds at the end. It this song is a followup to the previous one, then it works pretty nicely even though the moods are wildly contrasting. It tells a good story.

Interesting intro: upbeat and kind of forboding in an energetic sort of way? Vocals start off distortedly, adding to the darker kind of mood. Lead up to the chorus lightens up a little and vocals are no longer distorted though Yuna still sounds very demanding. Chorus lightens a bit more and is more lively; vocals feel forceful and strong. Second verse returns to distortion, but the mood stays lighter. Lyrics are more and more empowering and motivational. The progression is interesting, though admittedly, much of the beginning I didn’t understand. Bridge slows down and there’s a bit of acoustic — a good lapse before the final two choruses, which are predictably energetic. Last chorus changes pitch a bit, but it works really well. Sustained and overlapping vocals carry the song to the fade-out end.

TRACK 10: No one else
Acoustic intro! Very sweet. Lyrics start off softly and thoughtfully, a little typical, but not terrible. A steady beat makes its way into the background; vocals have some gorgeous, gorgeous sustained notes. Chorus has a really sweet melody, especially for the “no one else” part. Loving that guitar. It’s distantly reminiscent of the beach-themed songs, so it’s a nice connecting element. I’m sure I sound repetitive, but it really, really makes me happy when Japanese and English are woven together so smoothly in songs. It’s no wonder I tend to favor artists that are able to pull it off. Final chorus fades back into the acoustic with a few sustained notes. Very pretty.

TRACK 11: Body
Starts off with a lot of repeated “dance with me, come dance with me,” intersperced between clapping beats in the back. First verse starts with fast lyrics on the steady beat, kind of interesting. Chorus is hiphop-sounding. The tempo and the way the lyrics are sung in general are pretty hiphop-sounding to me, but I’m not all that familiar with the genre. It’s nice to listen to though; Yuna’s voice is pretty hypnotizing, and there are a lot of really nice overlapping vocals. Bridge is pretty relaxed and slows the tempo a bit. Outro is similar to the intro, though by that point it feels rather repetitive. Not terrible though — pretty okay song overall.

OVERALL: I’m not sure what I was expecting from this actually. This is the first Yuna Ito album I’ve heard as most of my previous exposure to her music has been through the various singles she’s contributed to anime, most notably the NANA live action movies and Gundam 00. Though Dream is a short album and there are a few songs I didn’t care for or were indifferent towards, I think it’s a good and well-rounded album overall. “Ima demo aitaiyo” and “miss you” really impressed me, and “BREEEEZIN!!!!!!” really surprised me. Yuna’s vocals are really gorgeous and her mix of English and Japanese is usually very well done. There’s a good mix of moods and melodies, and I feel like there’s something here for most everyone to enjoy. If you’re new to Yuna Ito, Dream is probably a good album to start off with.

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