Mami Kawada – Break a Spell

break a spell

I really like this cover. Very cool.

Tracklist:

  1. Break a Spell
  2. Remaining Snow
  3. Break a Spell <instrumental>
  4. Remaining Snow <instrumental>

***

The intro of Break a Spell uses growling dubstep and heavy beats, which threw me off at first and made me expect an electro song. However, it settles into an electro/rock fusion, which is a genre I’m more comfortable with. Although the song isn’t driven by guitars, it feels more like a rock track than other Mami songs I’ve heard. I particularly like the repeated guitar theme, an edgy chromatic line from one guitar contrasted with brighter chords from the other.

The instrumentation and arrangement are good overall. I enjoy the distorted guitars combined with electro influences, and the percussion has low, forceful sound. As usual, I would have preferred real drums, but the programmed beats are fine in this case. The pre-chorus should have had a louder guitar mix because it’s lacking energy, but the rest of the song’s mixing is satisfactory. I love the key change at the chorus. The chorus melody doesn’t snatch my attention a lot, but it’s acceptable and I’m happy enough with it.

Mami’s vocals are all right. She does well, but I’m not captivated. Her head voice is great though, and she does a couple of cool slow slides, like on “shikokku ni yo kaze ga”. However, I think her vocals are weird in a couple of places, like on “break a spell”, where she has some odd, wobbling effect on her voice. Either that or her vibrato is bleagh.

Break a Spell is a solid electro-rock piece, with respectable arrangement and vocals. The few issues don’t hurt the song too much, and it’s quite a pleasant surprise.

Contrasting with the title track, Remaining Snow is a slower electronic piece. It’s also really boring. I can’t find much to say because it’s so bland. The vocals are okay, though I don’t like Mami’s slightly cute tone. There’s no changes in dynamics or creative melodies to make things better. The song just plods along. On a random note, the verse is like a sleepy version of Ami Tokito’s Sentimental Generation (just mentioning it, and it doesn’t affect my rating of the song. Also lol dat PV).

Break a Spell is a good A-side, but Remaining Snow is a lazy B-side. Overall, this is a decent single, and if you like electro/rock in your anison, it’s worth a listen for the title track.

***

Rating: 3 stars

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16 Responses to Mami Kawada – Break a Spell

  1. Y.N. says:

    NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU MY CHANCE AT REVIEWING IT FIRST
    Ignoring that ^, I’m especially glad that Mami is back big-time, with a PV, tie-in promotion, beautiful covers, even though the song isn’t so special. | ◕ˇ▽ˇ◕|o彡゚

    • Alex says:

      Should’ve done it instead of the Yoko Hikasa one! But I don’t mind waiting, y’know… as long as you tell me🙂

      So you’re not so keen on the song Break a Spell? I quite liked it haha.

      Also DAAAAT COVAAAAAAAAA

      • Mack says:

        My initial thoughts based on the sample PV made me like the song a lot. But once I heard the full song this slightly dropped because of the chorus. I was specially interested thanks to that intro.

  2. mk03 says:

    Thanks for reviewing the single.

    Now time for my (premature) thoughts (premature, since I’ve only listened to the TV-size version of Break a spell and have not yet listened to Remaining snow). Well… for me to say that I am disappointed is a crushing understatement. The vocals… are everywhere. Particularly in the first verse. The transition to the chorus was also pretty abrupt. But since this is a Mami Kawada song, it will probably grow on me eventually😉

    Also, I watched the music video. It’s pretty interesting, but I don’t like the fact that there are several parts where Mami is naked. She’s too old for that kind of thing <_< It's still better than her Borderland music video though, which was ridiculously cheap looking (guess I've Sound spent all of their money on the plane ticket to Prague for her Serment PV). Borderland's PV does kind of resemble the music video for Hajimari no Hi by Suga Shikao (the OP of Tegami Bachi).

    Hopefully it charts well. Although Mami had two releases (three if you count Snap out of it!! with Maon) last year, none of them seemed to have much effort from her label (no PVs! Even Maon and Ray had better releases last year). Something is telling me that her career is heading into the doldrums, especially that she no longer has Shakugan no Shana and Index to support her career. But obviously, I don't want that to happen. Maybe, this single will save her career from impending irrelevance.

    • Alex says:

      I haven’t heard the TV version, so maybe you should hear the full version first. I think the anime versions often are awkwardly arranged to fit into the time constraints, so maybe that’s partly why you dislike it.

      “The vocals… are everywhere. Particularly in the first verse.”
      I’m not sure what you mean by this, and why you think it’s bad. I also thought the chorus transition from pre-chorus to chorus was pretty normal, and quite liked how the instruments cut out a bit to signal the change of section. But fair enough, you’re entitled to your view too.

      I’m not much of a PV person, sorry.

      I still don’t think I can make much of a comment on your belief that Mami’s career is going to the shits. I don’t think “something tells me” is very good evidence that she’s being shunned by her company and listeners. Most artists have their up and downs with regard to sales as well, so I don’t think lower sales for her last couple of singles necessarily means her career is in its twilight.

      • mk03 says:

        Just listen to her vocals, They sound tired for some reason. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.

        And I finally got to listen to remaining snow. Now that song, her vocals were pretty poor. Again, she sounded tired, and there were parts where her voice sounded strained.

        Not a good single I’m afraid.

      • mk03 says:

        AS for the part regarding her popularity, I know that popularity is a subjective matter, but let me explain it this way. I’m aware that singers have lulls in their career over time. The thing with Mami is that, for quite some time now, in general, the sales of her singles have gone down. Gone are the days of massive-sellers and high-charting singles (for an anison artist) like Hishoku no Sora and JOINT. FIXED STAR had relatively mediocre sales and did only modestly at the charts, and my beloved Serment didn’t even sell well.

        I never said she’s being shunned by everyone (if that were the case, she probably would have retired by now). What I have been trying to say (even though it might have not been clear for you) is that, for a singer of her talent, her popularity never reached the heights of singers like KOTOKO or LiSA, and currently she’s not as popular as she used to (and she was never super popular to begin with). Me saying that her career is in its twilight actually a fear of mine that (hopefully) won’t happen anytime soon, but makes me worried, mainly because the two series that made her a star in the anison world (Shana and Index) are pretty much over, and I’m worried that she’ll get less anime tie-ups from now on.

  3. Moira says:

    My need to review this has now significantly reduced, thanks to your review. *relaxing sigh*

    All that dubstep in Break a spell… oh yes. That delicious-sounding dubstep was actually omitted from the TV size, and I was like, “Nuuuu…” but, you know… time constraints and whatnot. Anyway, I do agree that Break a spell was a pleasant surprise after all that time having reservations about the kind of music she releases. I found it to be a quite engaging to some extent🙂

    The B-side is just not good though. I mean, UGHH, THOSE IDOL-LIKE, HIGH-PITCHED VOCALS. WHY. And the arrangement was just tiresome and definitely lazy. Whatever.

  4. mk03 says:

    About a week in, and Break a spell ghas failed to chart at the Top 30 on Oricon. Which has never happened to any of her anime tie-up singles before (she did have one single that charted outside the top 30, but it was a re-release of a single that was originally included in an I’ve Sound boxset and doesn’t really count). To think X-encounter did well too. Ouch.

    As a side question, are you familiar with Gero?

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