Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Otsuka Ai – LOVE PUNCH [1st Studio Album]

Posted on: July 18, 2008

Otsuka Ai’s 1st studio album, entitled LOVE PUNCH, was released on 03.31.04.

Opening the album is pretty voice. The song starts off with an exciting and uptempo rock-tinted instrumental and then the chorus comes in strongly. Ai’s vocals sound great by capturing the atmosphere of the song with that cuteness that she does so well. The first verse then comes in and the energy is still there as Ai happily sings the lyrics. The pure instrumental section is really cool by showing off that fun and energy that the song emits. For its exciting and free feeling, pretty voice is a nice album opener and does a great job of introducing that energy that Ai brings throughout the album.

The sweet and adorable song, 桃ノ花ビラ, is the second song. The song begins with that sweet and relaxing instrumentation that takes the listener into the world of the song. The repeating words during the verse catch the listener’s ear and the vocals sound great here. That adorableness comes out on the chorus strongly and has such an energy that it touches the listener’s heart. During the pure instrumental sequence, the music becomes a little more varied as the traditional Japanese sounds are spotlighted, which keeps the energy fresh in the listener’s mind. A continued sweet instrumental sequence closes the song nicely. 桃ノ花ビラ hasn’t lost any steam from its release as a single.

Up next is さくらんぼ. Ai begins the song by singing a few lines with hushed vocals. Following is a fun uptempo instrumental and then the first verse starts. Her cute vocals really stand out to the listener by holding that energy strongly and moving with the music very well. The chorus is what makes the song really pop, particularly that last word, the title of the song, which is sung with such spunk. Another single released before the album, the single is still fresh and alive.

GIRLY is one of the most cutesy songs on the album. The song opens with a fun and exciting instrumental before the first verse starts. Ai’s vocals sound cute and really work with the music to solidify a certain cute theme that catches the listener’s ear. Ai brings the cuteness full force on the chorus with the first note of each line, accentuated very nicely. The ending of the chorus as she sings “la la la la” really sounds nice on the ears. The pure instrumental sequence features some awesome rock flavor and the guitar really does take the listener off into another world before the chorus comes back in.

The fifth song on the album is 雨の中のメロディー. The song starts off with the chorus, which is simply the title of the song sung twice with a few “la la la” thrown in to seperate them. Ai’s voice is very pretty here and does a good job of establishing the song’s atmosphere. The first verse follows a very sweet instrumentation sequence. Ai’s vocals sound absolutely breathtaking here and she hits the higher notes strongly. Ai holds her notes fantastically on the song as well as displaying her power. As the song goes on, there are slight rock influences that come out to play, standing out to the listener before the final chorus. She holds another great note before the rock tints disappear and the soft and sweet piano instrumenation is central again, soon closing the song. 雨の中のメロディー is a brilliant song from Ai that shows off both her range and power, vocally and is one of the standout tracks on the album.

しゃぼん玉, the sweet ballad, is the following track. A soft and touching instrumental opens the song and then the first verse begins. Ai’s vocals capture the fragility of the song perfectly and take the listener away. The chorus stands out as the instrumental steps forward a little more and Ai shows off some great vocals. The pure instrumental section sounds brilliant as the piano is spotlighted before returning back to the beautiful chorus. The beauty of the lyrics, the emotional capturing element of Ai’s voice and a gorgeous instrumentation all combine to make しゃぼん玉 a fantastic song from Ai, one of the best in her entire discography.

Song number seven is 石川大阪友好条約. The song starts off with a pretty and creative instrumentation and once the first verse starts, Ai sings in a very cutesy voice and the cheering from others in the background give the song a nice touch, reflecting the lyrical theme of friendship. The chorus really stands as the part of the title is repetaed four times with a more cute voice than cutesy. Although the song is simplistic, it’s fun and cheerful, and definitely catches the listener’s ear.

The eighth song on LOVE PUNCH is 片想いダイヤル. Beginning the song is the sound of a phone being dialed and after a ring, the song’s fun and carnival like instrumental comes in, really capturing the listener. Ai’s vocals during the first verse sound great and they work with the music perfectly. There is a certain cuteness to them but there is still strong power there. The twinkling sounds that spur the instrumentation during the chorus catch the listener’s ear and Ai continues to sound great. The pure instrumental section really brings out the cool flare of the song as the guitar leads the listener through the song’s world. This song is an excellent creative piece which Ai brings to life, taking the listener on an exciting adventure.

The shortest song on the album, Honey, features a pretty simple instrumentation. The song begins with a sweet song that sounds like a story and then Ai comes in singing with a sweetness in her voice that matches the music well. The repetition during the chorus really catches the listener’s ear and provides for an enjoyable experience. She sharply sings one word, which throws the listener off before going back into the sweetness. Honey ends with what sounds to be a happy ending, rounding out the short-story-like song wonderfully.

The semifinal song on the album is 甘えんぼ. A very cute and romantic instrumental starts the song off, instantly catching the listener’s ear. Ai’s vocals during the first verse sound very pretty and help establish the song’s atmosphere. There is a slight build up, instrumentally, to introduce the chorus and it stands out nicely with Ai singing strongly along. Ai’s ending vocalizing sounds great and really stand out to the listener, bringing the song to a nice close. As a sweet song released as a single, the song fits perfectly on LOVE PUNCH.

Closing the album is the sweet piano ballad, Always Together. A piano instrumental opens the song up and the twinkling sounds and other instruments really help create an atmosphere. The instrumentation throughout the song is wonderful and Ai’s vocals sound fantastic, really capturing the song’s emotion. As Ai sings “we are always together,” the tempo picks up a little more, still keeping a good atmosphere. Always Together is a great album closer by showing off Ai’s vocals very nicely.

Album Ranking: A

Otsuka Ai’s debut album is a collection of energetic numbers like GIRLY and さくらんぼ, sweet love ballads like しゃぼん玉 and 雨の中のメロディー and many other enjoyable songs that really stand out in the listener’s mind. Ai definitely brought creativity and talent to this album and the result is an enjoyable collection of songs.

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