- DAYS of DASH
- Yume no Tsuzuki
- CHOIR JAIL
Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui
Unmei no Engagement
AVENGE WORLD (Album ver.)
Shuujin -Paradox 2013-
Sekai wa Kizu wo Dakishimeru (Album ver.)
Yakusoku no Tsuzuki
Tears BREAKER (Album ver.)
Tsuioku no Kuroki Makenshi (2014MIX ver.)
I Say “Happy Day!”
DAYS of DASH (Pf ver.)
Konomi Suzuki’s first album 17 contains some excellent tracks, but is brought down by poor vocals, sloppy arrangements and filler tracks. 17 is an acceptable debut release, but could do with some serious improvements.
Vocals are the biggest problem on 17. I find this disappointing, because Konomi is a good vocalist, yet fails to deliver in many songs. My main issue is that she’s flat. Among all the vocal flaws I loathe, being off-note is right at the top. Some of these cases are basic errors – for example, in Yume no Tsuzuki‘s line “Makenai youni hashiri”, the extended “ha” is flat. Or in Anata ni, the second “anata ni” in the first chorus isn’t on the correct pitch. Or in a million other places. I think these errors should have been easily corrected, as the notes she’s singing aren’t too high. Then there are the other cases, where I blame the composers as well. Some of the phrases in Sekai wa Kizu wo Dakishimeru push at the upper reaches of Konomi’s range, and I think it’s unfair of the composers to expect her to sing it perfectly. Of course, that doesn’t make it sound any less pooey. I would’ve liked to hear Konomi use vibrato more often, which I hope would force back on note, while sounding nice at the same time.
Her dynamics are also troublesome. A feature in many songs are her long, held notes, with their distinctive crescendos. On its own, I don’t think this is bad, and can be an interesting way to change things up. However, they’re overused on 17, getting repetitive and causing the dynamics to become uneven.
However, I wouldn’t like to give the impression that everything is terrible in the vocal department. Konomi’s tone is great. She’s always expressive, has power on the high notes, and maintains a clean sound. She also excels at singing in head voice. Most of the tracks have crisp head voice delivery, but my favourite example is in CHOIR JAIL. Her transition from chest voice to head voice on “Choir jail” is flawless.
17 introduces five new songs (or four if you don’t count Unmei no Engagement), with the rest being singles tracks or album remakes of singles tracks. Unfortunately, the new songs are all dull. They’re not good or bad, just average and forgettable. Well, except Anata ni, which has unforgettably sucky vocals. On a side note, I wonder why they didn’t include Fly To The Stars? It’s better than the majority of tracks from 17.
My opinions on the album re-makes are mostly negative. This take of AVENGE WORLD has new guitars with complex arrangements, which are very effective at drowning out the vocals. The guitars also skilfully manage to make the song into a huge mess… not that it wasn’t a mess in the first place. But did they fix the fatal flaw of the original, the vocals? Of course! Not. Great job, people.
Sekai wa Kizu wo Dakishimeru (Album ver.) gains extra guitar as well, while leaving the mediocre vocals alone. In the end, it’s pretty similar to the single version. The album version of Tears BREAKER adds a strings introduction, but doesn’t do much else. It’s still a good song, and I’m just as happy with the new version as I was with it on the WataMote single.
Tsuioku no Kuroki Makenshi (2014MIX ver.) is a re-take of a song originally from metal group Dragon Guardian’s album The Best Of Dragon Guardian Saga, which Konomi was a guest artist on. Unlike the other album versions on 17, it’s been re-sung (why only this song… why???) Apart from that, it hasn’t changed. The mix is a little quieter, but it’s the same power metal frenzy as before, with the berserk drumming and lightning guitar riffs. I’m fine with this version, but I don’t think the vocals have improved. In fact, I think the old one is slightly better.
The album’s closer is a piano version of DAYS of DASH. I like this idea, which adds a second ballad while putting a different spin on arguably Konomi’s most popular song. But how it’s actually executed isn’t that flash. The vocals are iffy, the verse needs more bass, and it’s only two minutes long. Uh, not impressed.
While many tracks have serious issues, there’s also tracks that are seriously good. The album opener, DAYS of DASH, is one of my favourite pop songs. It’s bright and infectious, with a pop-rock arrangement featuring enough variation to keep me hooked. Then there’s the glorious darkness of the goth/anison track CHOIR JAIL, which uses metal guitars and drums, chants from a choir, and anison piano. Getting to the heavy end of the spectrum, Konomi and Kiba of Akiba’s collaboration Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui is a super catchy metal piece (though a bit of a hot mess). And importantly, all these songs have excellent vocals.
To conclude, there’s no doubt 17 has some gems. However, I don’t feel it adds anything to her discography. The best songs are from the singles, the re-takes don’t improve the originals, and the new pieces are all snoozefests. Not only that, many songs have vocal issues, in particular being out-of-key. Overall, it’s a disappointing album. Konomi has talent though, and I hope time and experience will smooth out her vocal wrinkles.
- CHOIR JAIL
- DAYS of DASH
- Tears BREAKER (Album ver.)
- Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui
- Tsuioku no Kuroki Makenshi (2014MIX ver.)
Rating: 2.5 stars