- Up To Date
- Promise -Instrumental-
- Takaramono -Instrumental-
The lead track for Aya Hirano’s latest single is a tender ballad. Piano plays by itself to begin, with acoustic guitar, pleasant strings and feathery percussion joining in as the introduction continues. When the vocals arrive, I’m quickly struck by the fact that her voice is much more controlled than I’ve heard from her before. Here, her tone is smooth and even, which show improvement from her last ballad Zutto Kitto, where I felt she was over-expressive. Also, note that in the chorus her head voice blends with her chest voice reasonably well. A good switch that stood out to me was “kokoro de aeru kara” in the second chorus. But on the subject of the chorus, the echoey “love” at the beginning of the first couple of lines is repetitive after a while. The bridge is a little more exciting than the rest of the Promise, featuring higher notes, and the song wraps up with final chorus. Good vocals from Aya this time… but it is a ballad, and ballads don’t really interest me that much unless they’re really good. So decent but not stunning.
Takaramono opens with a synthy keyboard line and slow acoustic guitar. A mid-tempo beat and electronic bassline then enter and a piano also appears. The introduction goes on for a while, and it’s quite surprising when the vocals come in. I mean, usually you have some idea when a verse/chorus is going to start, but in this track it’s a pretty random “screw this, let’s just start singing” kind of entry. The vocal melody is attractive, but it’s also incredibly generic. At least the singing and the harmonies are nice. Another problem is that there aren’t any really changes in dynamics, making the song all one level of energy. It’s good for easy listening and that’s about it. There’s nothing offensive about this song, Takaramono is just an average and unmemorable J-Pop tune.
3. Up To Date
For the final track, there’s a rock song! Up To Date is on the slower side, and a fairly laid-back piece. Being the guitar nut that I am, the verse guitars stand out to me first with their distinctive riffs. The right one is palm-muted and relaxed with breaks in-between lines, and the left one has the occasional higher line. I don’t fully approve of this because those higher parts don’t quite fit in, however it’s only a minor issue. Aya’s sounding strong again in the chorus. I would prefer it if the backing vocals finished simultaneously with the lead vocals though. In the last pre-chorus, I think I can make out a male vocalist on backing, only for a single line. Odd, I would’ve thought they would have utilised him a bit more. While there are a few things that could be improved, Up To Date is my favourite song of the single.
This single was OK. Promise showed a controlled side to Aya’s vocals, which I was happy with and the song itself wasn’t too shabby as well. Takaramono was nice but the same as a million other pop songs, and Up To Date was a solid rock number. It doesn’t beat the higher quality rock-y songs she’s released recently like Mirai Voyager or Hoshikuzu Garandou, but I’ll take what I can get.