Eir Aoi – AUBE

AUBE

Tracklist:

  1. Dawning
  2. Sanbika
  3. Kin Mirai Koukyoukyoku
  4. Sirius
  5. Astral
  6. SAILING
  7. Cobalt Sky
  8. Nayuta Gride
  9. Wakusei no Uta
  10. Tsubasa no Yukue
  11. Niji no Oto
  12. Daydream
  13. KASUMI
  14. A New Day

***

Eir Aoi’s second album AUBE is a much-needed improvement from her debut album BLAU. The style is more focused, and uses little techniques in the arrangement to break away from the ordinary pop-rock formulas. Despite this, AUBE is riddled with flaws, and shows Eir needs much improvement as a singer.

Let’s discuss the music first. The songs from AUBE are pop or pop-rock. While her previous album was also pop-rock, the songs from this album have a greater emphasis on the rock side. As Eir’s voice is strong and rough around the edges, rock music works for her in two ways. Not only does belting high notes fit more against electric guitars and thumping drum beats, but I find rock music is effective in covering vocal weaknesses. And Eir needs all the help she can get.

While pop-rock is often associated with uncreative, plain arrangements, the songs from AUBE use tricks to add a touch of spice. I appreciate this effort by the composers to change things up. At first glance, Kin Mirai Koukyoukyoku (wow, quite a mouthful) seems like a normal pop-rock song, albeit with superior guitar riffs. However, at the bridge it undergoes a serious turnabout in mood, featuring harmonic minor guitar lines and pulses of chanting which would not be out of place in a metal track. Afterwards, heavy drumming doubles the tempo, and Eir unleashes one of her better high notes.

A different technique is used in SAILING, which is a relaxed pop tune. Again, the guitars are used effectively, playing descending series of natural harmonics, giving a feeling of gliding, which fits the theme of “sailing“. It’s a clever way of reinforcing the mood of the piece.

The last example I’ll give is Wakusei no Uta, which is a soft rock track. The instruments build the atmosphere with piano, quiet synths, slow guitar lines and peaceful backing vocals, all which lull you into a world of calm. Wakusei no Uta also gets points for just having a well-executed slow arrangement, which isn’t that common in pop land (outside of ballads).

Overall, the arrangement and instrumentation throughout this album is high quality, especially the guitar-work and drumming. The chosen instruments convey the desired expressions, and the arrangements are varied enough to hold my interest through the album, something a lot of pop-rock is unable to do.

Unfortunately, the arrangement is only half the story. When we come to the vocals, the album tumbles into the abyss. If anything, Eir sounds worse than in BLAU. Her singing is consistently problematic throughout AUBE, and lets down the arrangement.

As I’ve discussed in previous reviews, a serious problem with her voice is it gets strained as she goes high. This sounds horrible, and is a major turn-off. While all her songs have this problem in some amount, Sanbika, Sirius and Cobalt Sky are among the main offenders.

Other songs have issues specific to them. The upper notes are flat in Sanbika. In Nayuta Gride, it sounds like she’s coughing up a hairball when she says ”inori wo sasageru”. Wakusei no Uta‘s chorus is plagued by Eir’s harsh tones, which are unsuitable for the song. A New Day has similar problems, as the vocals are too strong for the acoustic backing.

However, there are still faint sparks of hope in the darkness. Wakusei no Uta has its problems, but Eir manages to use a softer tone in the verse, which is more appropriate for the arrangement. In KASUMI, her voice is stressed, but less than other tracks. And finally there’s Niji no Oto, easily the best song of the album. Eir’s vocals in Niji no Oto have pleasant vibrato, aren’t strained (well, mostly…) and are far above other songs in terms of vocal quality.

In conclusion, while the arrangement and instrumentation are superior to other songs in the pop-rock field, her singing requires serious work. AUBE might be enjoyable – but only if you have a high tolerance for shoddy vocals. While I’ll be keeping tabs on her, you can consider Eir Aoi dropped from my site.

***

Top Tracks:

  • Niji no Oto
  • Kin Mirai Koukyoukyoku
  • Wakusei no Uta
  • KASUMI
  • SAILING

Rating: 2 stars

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30 Responses to Eir Aoi – AUBE

  1. Interesting review. And great way to explain an album. I haven’t heard anything from her so I’m not sure how she sings. And based on how you explained it, it makes me think I was right in not listening her.

  2. Artemis says:

    Ahh, that’s a shame. I’ll certainly give this a listen for myself, as I’ve only heard the singles from AUBE so far (Sirius is pretty catchy), but I don’t doubt what you say about Eir’s vocals. Softer voices straining to hit those high notes is one of my main issues with female Japanese pop/rock artists, and it doesn’t surprise me that Eir has this exact problem.

    • Alex says:

      Don’t get too down. I know I’m far more fussy about vocals than many people, so you might not have a problem with it. Tbh I think if you’re fine with Sirius, you’ll be fine with most of the tracks.

      • Artemis says:

        I’ve gone over it a couple of times now. I do like the more rock-focused sound, but yeah, the vocals aren’t exactly the steadiest. If the song’s catchy enough, I can sometimes overlook that though. Other than Sirius, the other 3 tracks that stand out to me are Kin Mirai Koukyoukyoku, Nayuta Gride, and Kasumi. The rest I honestly find a bit dull.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Finally, a review on Aoi Eir’s album. I was searching for BLAU’s review but still couldn’t find one. -.-
    Anyway, 2 stars is abit too low, isn’t it? Though I can’t really comment on that since I have yet to receive my copy.
    I do agree that her vocal sounds better in BLAU. I find her singles here are less catchy compared to Aurora, Innocence and Avalon Blue. Though I agree that she sounds impressive in Niji no Oto, especially during the bridge.
    Can’t wait to have my copy of AUBE though. From the sample previews I heard, I really thought this would be a more rock-ish version of her previous album, especially with tracks like Kin Mirai, Kasumi and Astral.

    • Alex says:

      Two stars is quite low. But I am quite picky about vocals in my songs, and sadly Eir is just not cutting it.
      AUBE is definitely more rocking than BLAU, so if you’re keen on some rock music then this is probably your thing.

  4. Moira says:

    Interesting to see you extend out of the usual track-by-track format! I feel like I need to do this for the LANDSPACE review, since I’d probably run out of ways to say “This is an upbeat pop-rock song”, lol.

    I was considering getting this album, but given that I wasn’t too fond of her debut album, I was very hesitant to listen to this. I think I’m like you in that I don’t mind her style of music, but her vocals can sometimes be a bother.

    I still haven’t gotten this, but your two-star rating makes me feel better about that, haha.

    • Alex says:

      Thanks. Though I’d say it’s more “compress” than “extend” haha. I quite like this new format, actually. Not only is it one-third the word count of track-by-track reviews (and probably took one-fifth of the time), but I also get out of describing the song, which is my least favourite part. Instead I can focus on sections which I think are important. The downside is I lose some detail though, and each song doesn’t get the same scrutiny as a track-by-track review does.

      I was a bit hesitant getting it too. Then I thought “oh well, it’ll be good to review at least”. But despite the vocals not being up my alley, I was happy with the arrangements, so I got something out of it at least🙂

  5. mk03 says:

    As a big Aoi Eir fanboy (in fact, I’m currently the guy with the most number of edits on her Wikipedia article), I can frankly say I’m not pleased with your review (Two stars? Dropping Aoi? Really?) *gets bricked*

    On a serious note though, I have to admit that her voice needs a lot of work. She has a very beautiful voice, and when used correctly can have amazing results (INNOCENCE). Unfortunately, her voice can get a bit “airy” or “cutesy” at times, like in Cobalt Sky (man I hate that song), which, while it appears to be her trademark, it also works against her. Even though I like Sirius now, I do admit that the song is pretty crap vocally (although musically it’s pretty catchy). Maybe ex-gravure models just aren’t meant to sing powerful songs?

    I find it interesting that she released an album less than a year after her previous one. I know she’s been quite prolific lately, but among anison singers I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

    Also, since you’re pretty much dropping Aoi, what’s your favorite and least favorite songs of her? In a “sea of mediocrity”, surely there’s a bright spot there somewhere, right?

    And since you’ve dropped her, can you try Haruna Luna’s music? I think Haruna’s a better singer (even though I like Aoi more >.<), but while some of her songs (Overfly and Snowdrop) are pretty good, others (Ai wo Utae), while catchy, are pretty bad overall. (And can you review Break a spell?Please?)

    • Alex says:

      *runs away from brick*

      Hmm, don’t think being a gravure model would have anything to do with singing abilities, I’d say it more a personal thing with her voice she needs to work on.

      It’s not really that surprising that she’s released her second album given all the releases she’s had recently. I suppose you’re happy then, since you love her music🙂

      Shall I just list some my favourites? I’ve got quite a lot of songs I dislike lol.
      -Stuff from Prayer that’s more metal like Crimson Eyes, Fade Into Black, End Of The Earth. I like metal hehe.
      -Niji no Oto
      -Lament and Avalon Blue
      That’s what I can think of, off the top of my head.

      *shhh but I miiiiiight have dropped Luna after OVERSKY*. I did review a few of her singles, but then I got bored of her album. It only had a couple of songs I liked. Thought her voice was a bit piercing as well (I think, can’t really remember). Not gonna review her at the moment, sorry.

      I will consider reviewing Break A Spell. While I don’t have anything against Mami’s voice, her music isn’t my favourite though. So. It’s a possibility.

  6. mintavirangku says:

    Your reviews about Eir Aoi make me wonder about her voice, so i tried listening some of her songs. INNOCENCE sounds good, Niji no Oto is okay, and Sirius make me want to cut my ears, I don’t wanna hear it again hahaha😀 I don’t understand about vocal technique, so usually I’m quite tolerant about some not-so-good vocal, but Eir Aoi’s super high note is really terrible for my ears, so thanks for your reviews, it makes me easier to pick which songs that I want to listen

    • Alex says:

      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad I could be of service ^_^

      • mk03 says:

        I guess I’m in the minority then, people who like Aoi T_T

        • Alex says:

          No idea, I’ve never conducted an Aoi-liking survey😛

        • mintavirangku says:

          I’m ok with Aoi, as long she doesn’t sing like in Sirius😀

        • duoearth says:

          mk03 you are not much minority here.
          I am still a fan of Eir Aoi. Still, I must say she should focus more on “Pop” or “Pop Rock” rather than try to more rockfish. It doesn’t suit with her voice/ singing much.
          I would say I like her voice hitting high notes back in BLAU over more rockish ( sometime metal ) like AUBE.
          Although, it can be sometime piercing like mintavirangku mentioned.

          I attended her live concert 2 times where setlist are different each time. ( Consequently from BLAU and AUBE ). My feeling was peak on her first concert where I really become her fan. But on the second one, I felt somewhat disappointed.

          I do not really know much about singing , but here are my feelings toward some songs from both album. ( I wish I could write more if I have more time )

          Blau
          Aurora: I prefer her concert to open with this song where she can really open strong before raising up and down during the song before she just break the hall at the end of the song. Her voice on high notes really shone here. Aurora is powerful on both music and singing. ( Not to mentioned, some fans said it should be used as opening in SAO rather than the disappointing Gundam Age. LoL )

          Innocence: The music is main trick in this song especially “the keyboard”. Nevertheless, I think it really goes well with her high voice where she sing it more smooth rather than hard way. Emphasis on some words during the song make the song feel more catchy where she can goes along with the music before send you “flying” at the end of the song.
          I give her a credit on writing lyric and work that sync with music in this song.
          ( Very beautiful yet energetic work )
          The problem is that I listened to this song on her 2nd concert as well ( Full Band this time ). They got “no keyboard !” ,but guitar and bass ( which is too heavy ). Her voice really contrast from band playing this time.=_=

          Avalon Blue: Music does a great opening here. Nevertheless, she smoothly takes you up with to high notes . A little bit piercing but yet powerful where she really make the several first time audiences screams even though it is not an anisong. Perhaps her strongest song. Her live version is really outshine the recorded one.

          Lament : Most underrated song ! Her singing is very smooth for the entire song. The emotion of the song is really like the story telling where there are dynamic on both music and singing. Ending part is one of my favorite where she machined gun her high voice.

          Memoria: Like Lament it is one of smooth song where she can really sing in her natural voice. Her voice really goes well with melody here.

          Aube
          Sanbika : I must really have to agree with Alex ‘s comment. It is flat and less catchy. Very repetitive. Her voice is not unleashed.

          Sirius : Ok for anisong genre I think it is a good work on lyric ( composed by Meg Rock famously known on “Sora iro days”) .Keyboard is really a contributor here.On singing, I think it is the way it is designed to sing like that especially on the chorus. Many of my friends already joined those part of “hikari ni natte” scream. I have no problem with that as an anisong that convey the feeling of fighting spirit of a normal high school girl. It is raw as it should be ( designed ).

          Cobalt Sky : Bright feeling ! I think it is ok, but still somewhat not memorable.

          Wakusei no Uta : Most easing song for this album. It is not the best ,but still good to hear it. Chilling !

          Niji no Oto : Somehow I think this one is really relaxing and she did not try to push it too hard. I will choose this as a best track for the album. My tear suddenly comes out when I went to her concert a second time.

          Kasumi : It is an interesting song that maybe stand out from her main theme of brightness.
          This song is more on the darker tone. I think her singing is about right with drum and bass .The beat of the song make it catchy and easy to go along.

          To summarize, Eir Aoi really caught my attention from her first album songs ,but she changed her style in her second album. I hope it is just an experimental. She really need a coach / producer who really can pinpoint her style and improve her singing technique.

          Following Aube, we now got Ignite , Tsunagaru Omoi and upcoming Genesis where I look forward to see more energy like what I saw in BLAU series.

          BTW, I really like Alex’s straightforward comment about her singing in several reviews🙂.

  7. mr x says:

    Being an avid fans of Jrock I could not wonder why it gets so low rating. I bought the CD yesterday and find many songs quite upbeat and catchy, the guitar riff was excellent and worth the play. Sorry I don’t know much about vocal quality and can’t judge her but I don’t feel disappointed buying her CD Thank you

    • Alex says:

      Many songs are catchy, and the guitar lines are pretty cool. But yeah, I really disliked the vocals. I think I’m a lot fussier about vocals than most people are though, and they have a lot of influence on my ratings. Glad you enjoyed the album, even though I didn’t!

  8. Rayne Sazaki says:

    PS: Thank you for the mention of [Sirius], now I understand why I subconsciously skipped Kill La Kill’s first few episode Opening after I heard it once >_<"

  9. Gustave154 says:

    I think you just dislike her voice lol…
    I used to hate her high notes but i started to love it since i heard her sing live.

    • Alex says:

      Well yes, I do dislike her voice… but because she’s a combination of thin, strained and flat, especially when singing high (do you disagree with me on these points, btw?). These attributes are not what I would consider good vocal technique. For me, the quality of a vocalist’s technique usually correlates directly with how much I like them.

  10. shizukesa says:

    I really enjoyed Prayer and own a copy of it but unfortunately I haven’t liked much of her stuff since then. She needs to keep on with the epic sounding songs imo, not a big fan of her poppier stuff:/

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