Janne Da Arc
Another Story

Janne Da Arc

Ah, yes, another Janne Da Arc album to review. Although I was impressed with their previous album GAIA, I did feel that there was something that kept it from being a really superb album. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but it should have been a 10. Yet, something was missing. Time to see if JDA can score a perfect with "Another Story".

Yasu looking cool.

1. 1/5 no otobako
These days, every album has to have an intro track, or so it seems. This one is only 45 seconds long, and consists of a music box playing the melody from "Rainy~ai no shirube". It's pretty, and a nice way to open the album.

2. In the Story
An appropriate title, I would say. This song starts out loud with lots of guitar and strings, then drops in volume for the first verse. Keyboards underscore Yasu's singing, and then the band enters again. Repeat for verse two. This is really effective, and allows the song to build toward the chorus. The bass in this song is also really, really good! Normally, I don't notice bass much, but I had to here. I love the filtered voice that leads into the chorus; it's almost cute in a way! The chorus is one of those patented, ultra-catchy JDA efforts. Yasu's voice just brings a smile to my heart. Oh, in the middle, there is a cool xylophone part that was totally unexpected, followed by a nice little solo by guitarist You. This song isn't as pop-ish as say "Feel the Wind," but isn't as hard as some of the songs on GAIA. You should like it!
Rating: 10 out of 10

3. MARIA no tsumeato
The first time I heard this song, I thought I had died and gone to jrock heaven. It's really that good. It opens with guitar, then explodes into the chorus. This is a fast-paced song that is so addictive it should be illegal. The lyrics are so much fun to sing, including the odd phrase "tenshi no REPURIKANT." Replicant angel?? What the...? Anyway, Yasu makes good use of his range in this song, and never strains. The percussion really pushes this song forward, and the guitar refrains will become very familiar after a while. It almost feels like a song you've heard before, but in a good way. I'm not sure how to explain it. All I know is that this is one of the best jrock songs I've heard in ages.
Rating: 10 out of 10

4. Oasis
Time for something a little darker. This is very reminiscent of the songs on "GAIA," with a pounding beat and quick vocals from Yasu. At times, it's almost like he's spitting out the words. The style works very well for this type of song. The chorus is in a higher register and is much smoother, but still has an edge. The real driving force in this song is the guitar and bass, accompanied with nice percussion. The song isn't as good as the previous two, but it is certainly a strong effort and will please those looking for a more raw sound. Oh, and I love You's guitar solo. But you knew that, right?
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

5. Akai Tsuki
Okay, my interest is always piqued by songs with titles like "Red Moon." The song opens with some acoustic guitar and a female voice singing "Ah's." The bass and a piano soon join in; all these elements blend very well to paint a beautiful musical landscape that feels like a winter night to me. Yasu sings in a very restrained way, but with just the right amount of emotion. The song grows faster toward the chorus, which is exquisite and completely perfect in my opinion. In a lot of ways, this song feels like something L'arc~en~ciel might have done. The overall mood is very contemplative. I do love this song.
Rating: 10 out of 10

6. ubawareta chie
It's an interlude track, and it feeds right into "Suicide Note." That's all I can think to say.

7. Suicide Note
Such a nice title. This is a short, quick little song with some Porno Grafitti-esque accompaniment. In fact, even Yasu seems like he's trying to sound a bit like Akihito. The song doesn't depart so far from JDA's normal style, but it is a change of pace. It seems a bit happy for a song about suicide though. Hmmm... anyway, it's good.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

8. What's Up!
This has to be the craziest song I've heard from JDA. It has this ridiculous 80s beat with hand-clapping and everything. Yasu makes his voice more nasal to fit the style, and the keyboards play a bigger role. God, I feel like I've gone back in time 20 years. That said, this is a great, nostalgic rollicking song. This song is sure to bring back memories if you've been listening to jrock for a long time. The melody is so simplistic, yet somehow it's still interesting. More than any song on the album, this one is likely to make you smile. Happy music is good!
Rating: 10 out of 10

9. Paradise
Wow, this is another insanely upbeat song. The main instrument here is keyboards at first, but they drop out to let the drums and guitar take center stage. This song doesn't have the 80s feel of "What's Up!", but there is a bit of 60s go-go feel to the keyboards. The chorus is soooo danceable. Yasu has the perfect voice for this kind of music, and he sounds like he's having a lot of fun. He also gets a vocal work out on a couple of the jumps. Wow, that's high. I can't stress how much FUN this song is. Even at 1 am half-asleep, I feel like I should get up and bop around the room.
Rating: 10 out of 10

10. explosion
Every time you think Janne Da Arc has settled into a style, they go and pull a 180 on you. This is a hard song with lots of percussion and guitar, and even some X Japan-esque shouts! Whoo hoo! I love the guitar and bass in this; it's so pounding and has a great drive. Then there's this keyboard part that is simply one chord again and again. It fits the style so well. The chorus is indeed explosive, and makes the song hurtle forward even faster. This is good stuff, my friends. I should add a caveat that this is not for those of you that prefer light, poppy music. All this being said, its probably the weakest track on the album so far, but still a good song.
Rating: 8 out of 10

11. kasumi yuku sora se ni shite
If you read my review of the single, you know how much I love this song. Even if it is slightly lighter and less "rock," it is a GREAT song. It has everything going for it: a great beat, a memorable melody and addictive chorus. Yasu's voice soars appropriately as he sings about the sky. The lyrics may be slightly bittersweet, but overall the tone is hopeful and bright. No matter how many times I hear it, I can't get sick of this song. That puts it up there with "MARIA no tsumeato" as my favorite JDA songs.
Rating: 10 out of 10

Ooh, cool title. I'll bet it's a hard rock song. Hey, I was right! Hehe. This song reminds be a little of "explosion" minus the shouting. I love how Yasu is able to make his voice slightly darker for the hard songs. He shows off his range here again, especially leading into the chorus. Which, I should say, is again wonderful. How does JDA write such great choruses?? Pay attention to the drumming in this one; it's quite good. I feel like I should stop giving 10s, but this song is really excellent. I can't find anything to complain about.
Rating: 10 out of 10

13. Otome no Koori to Joou
Another interlude. And it's to the tune of "rainy~ai no shirube." This time, a woman and child sing. Moving onward...

14. Rasen
For some reason, some people don't like this song. I love it. The keyboards play a great piano part under Yasu's singing and a weird computer voice that speaks at the beginning. There is also a little chime keeping time with the percussion. This song is mid-tempo, and a perfect way to build toward the album's climatic ballad. So far, this is probably the most emotional song on the album, and I think also the best suited to Yasu's voice. I should mention that piano solos, no matter how short, rock. Seriously. This song loses half a point for the annoying echo-voices during the bridge, which is otherwise the high point of the song.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

15. rainy~ai no shirube~
Finally, we reach the ultimate climax of the album. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the moment you have all been waiting for. No more mid-tempo, almost-ballads; this is a sweeping, epic 8 minute symphony of emotion. It opens quietly with keyboards, then Yasu sings the chorus for the first time. Let me tell you, the chorus is really high and Yasu sings it perfectly. As he nears the end, the guitars and percussion kick in. The pace picks up some, but trust me, this is still a ballad. The verses are nicely restrained, so that when Yasu comes to the chorus your breath catches every time. If you still aren't convinced this song is good, I'll tell you a story. I was playing "Another Story" in the car on my way back to school, and my grandma was with me. She knows about as much about Japanese music as I know about calculus, which is to say NOTHING. This song came on, and the car fell silent except for the music. No one spoke. Finally, as the song neared the end, my grandma said, "That's a really beautiful song. It's wonderful." I was stunned. For those of you that don't believe that music is the universal language, listen to this song.
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Can't I give it a 12??)

16. Shining Ray
Anything would feel like an anti-climax after "rainy~ai no shirube," so I feel like I should try to go easy on "Shining Ray." This is bright song, almost in the vein of "Feel the Wind" but a bit more subdued. I like to think of it as an epilogue to the rest of the album. You know how in movies there's always a song that plays as the credits roll? That's exactly the feeling I get from this song. I was going to say that "rainy" would have been a better way to end the album, but that's not true. It's TOO emotional. This song wraps everything up nicely and gives you a sense of resolution. It just goes to show what a finely constructed work of art this album is.
Rating: 9 out of 10

Well, it turns out that the rating is an even 9.5. I personally would give it a ten, but some people would think that is too generous. I WILL encourage all you jrock fans to go out and buy this album ASAP. It's excellent, and well worth your money.

Overall Rating: 9-10 (I can't decide!)

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