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Guilty Reviewing Ayu’s 10th album

I seem to take forever in between album reviews so I do hope I remember everything I was supposed to bring up again… Anyway, today I will be reviewing Ayu’s album Guilty. This album is probably one of her darkest as it contains many themes of loss. From what I had heard and read within the official album itself this album was made in dedication to a friend she had late in the previous year. This was a very depressing time for Ayu as she had also recently lost hearing completely in her left ear and experienced a break up with her boyfriend whom she had been with for 7 years. To be honest, I was very surprised to see a full-length album at all with all the stress she had been going through but it is interesting to note that when she’s the most stressed she seems to make wonderful music. Let’s get started shall we?

Ayumi Hamasaki- Guilty Released: 01.01.08

  1. Mirror
  2. (Don’t) leave me alone
  3. Talkin’ 2 myself
  4. decision
  6. fated
  7. Together When…
  8. Marionette -prelude-
  9. Marionette
  10. The judgement day
  11. glitter
  12. MY ALL
  13. ReBirth
  14. untitled ~for her~

Mirror: Like most albums (with the exception of a select few) we are starting off with the short intro song. This piece starts out with some computer like sounds that in all honesty sort of reminded me of AOL’s modem… this quickly changes into jukebox like music and classical accompaniment. In her lyrics the narrator is simply reflecting on how events have turned out and asking herself whether she is moving forward or giving up. A very simple yet very powerful narrative that gives us a gripping start to this album. In a later single titled “Mirrocle World” a full version of this song is made complete with it’s own PV and extended orchestrated instrumentals. I am honestly happy this was done as the piece feels much more whole as an entire song but still was effective in introducing this deep album.

(don’t) leave me alone: This song has an edgy almost rock like feel to it but certainly has all the elements on her normal pop songs, with a quick pace and quick lyrics to balance it all out. The narrator shows her discontent with receiving pity and ‘fake smiles’ from those around her and she prefers that instead of pretending to be nice that the person just be honest with her and if he must be cruel to be as cruel as he can. Whether this song is towards one individual or multiple people I am not sure yet. Either way this person is someone the narrator cares about as the song ends with the lyrics "Leave me alone now… But don’t leave me alone." ~Ayumi Hamasaki ((don’t) Leave me alone) which is just the sort of contradicting lyrics I love in Ayu songs that creates the feeling of overall inner turmoil.

talkin’ 2 myself: originally released as the A side to a single, Talkin 2 myself is another edgy rock style song. The music is mostly guitar with some keyboard and other instrumental accompaniment. The pace is fast but steady and compliments the lyrics well. The Narrator is pretty much, as the title suggests, talking to herself and is reflecting on her reaction to events and taking responsibility for the results. The song has a determined feel to it though as the narrator makes it clear that she knows “creation comes after destruction” ~Ayumi Hamasaki (talkin’ 2 myself). The PV is pretty punk-rock style and has military refrences in it, clearly showing that the narrator is still fighting onward despite the tragedies she has faced.

Decision: Originally released as the B-side to the talkin’ 2 myself single Decision is an equally edgy song with the same rock like elements as it’s A-side counterpart. Decision has a slightly slower pace to it than talkin’ 2 myself but still contains it’s own edgy guitar instrumentals. The lyrics to this song are also very determined and give a feel of the narrator moving forward without regret and sticking to the decision she had made long ago even as things have become difficult. She also states that no matter what occurs she must accept herself. The PV for this song is mostly her singing with her band but is still enjoyable.

GUILTY: Starting off with a chiming bell and what may sound sort of like the sound of wind we are already given an ominous feel before the main instrumentals start. The pace starts out relatively slow and somber with instrumentals that create a feeling on unease and by the chorus the pace speed up a little. The narrator is afraid of the events of her past catching up and overcoming her and she is not able to be fully open about these feelings. She doesn’t wish for whomever she is singing to to press her any further as she rather lie or make an excuse for her behavior than fully face the truth. This song is quite darker that the two preceding it but has quite beautiful instrumentals and is one of my favorites among the title tracks of Ayu albums.There is a voice that says guilty in the instrumentals and a few other things which I think might be “Guilty, it’s your fault.” but I could be wrong and you can let me know what you think too.

fated: Originally a B-side to the single Glitter/fated, fated is a ballad with a sad and almost nostalgic feel to it. The instrumentals are soft and the pace of the song is slow. The narrator first speaks about destiny and meeting your fated lover and transitions into her feelings of the lover she is no longer with and the pain she is going through after they’ve parted. She is in despair and feels she probably didn’t deserve that person’s love but in the end she realizes she only thought of him this whole time and admits to having given up on being with this person whom she loved so much. The PVs of glitter and fated were a two part story with fated being the 2nd part and having a very heart-breaking ending…if you see no other PVs from the Guilty era do see these two Pvs if you get the chance.

Together When…: Originally released as Ayu’s first digital single, meaning it was not released as a CD but excursively online. I was not one of the lucky individuals to have gotten it and had to wait till purchasing guilty to hear it in Together When…has mostly piano instrumentals and a steady pace throughout the piece. This is another sad ballad about a relationship that has ended full of powerful lyrics of regret and despair. She believes that when she is reborn again she will seek out her lover. I can’t really properly desrcibe these lyrics so I will post them below. The PV is very sad but also a good one…do check it out if you can.

"I wanted to say "Thank you"
I couldn’t say “Thank you”
Because it’s like saying “Good-bye forever”
And too sad

Maybe I shall be born again to myself some day
And start a journey to find you.” ~ Ayumi Hamasaki (Together When…)

Marionette -prelude-: And thus we’ve hit our first instrumental interlude of this album. Marionette has jukebox music playing in a somewhat dark tone and stops every now and then while the sound of winding up can be heard, you can also hear a clock chiming. It’s a very appropriate beginning to the next song.

Marionette: We’ve come to my favorite song in the album so forgive me if I seem like I am over praising it. The song starts with the same music box sounding instrumentals and a dreary feel to it. The insturmentals start out slow and then gain more energy by the chorus and this is pretty much the pace of the song. Do you remember in my LOVEPPEARS review when I mentioned those lyrics would be referenced in a later album? Do you? huh? Well, as I promised…that song is Marionette. "It was me, you, and that girl."~ Ayumi Hamasaki (Immature) "Please don’t forget
Me, that girl and you” ~Ayumi Hamasaki (Marionette) People may say it’s a stretch but I know Ayu well enough by now to know that she doesn’t have ‘coincidences’ she cleverly leaves hints for her fans to notice and this is one of them. The lyrics themselves are a few of life and how we all wear masks and hide our true emotions for fear of being hurt. She mentions how we’ve made many mistakes but we are still alive so we shouldn’t ‘live like the dead’ and should take off our masks without fear. I love this song for the instrumentals, the PV with awesome effects, and the simple yet powerful message that the song delivers.

The judgement day: filled with bells, organs, and other ominous sounds this instrumental is filled with the impression of gloominess and death that almost makes you feel like you are in a graveyard at times but somehow seems to have a hopeful feel to it.

glitter: originally the A-side to the glittler/fated single, glitter is a good example of Ayu’s summer love songs. It is a happy song of a new love that has started despite the narrator’s pain and fears and the determination she has to create a brighter future with the person she loves. This song is perhaps the happiest and most energetic in this whole album. The music pop like and very upbeat, probably even dancable and has a fast-paced steady beat throughout the entire piece. Despite being the 2nd song on the album it is the first part of the two part PV of glitter and fated released with the original single.

MY ALL: A ballad with a similar feel to glitter but a little slower in pace and has more of a reflection type feeling to it. This song is one of the many songs I like to term “Ayu’s encore songs” because of it’s use and overall sound that is similar between many of her encore songs. It is slow and clam in pace and fairly optimistic. There are some sad overtones to the song however as the lyrics seem to suggest that the narrator is no longer with this person, whether it is a relationship that is gone or whether this is relating to her lost friend is not very clear to me yet but it is powerful and sweet either way.

reBirth: the final instrumental interlude of the album, with a very calm and mysterious feel to it. Mostly with piano insturmentals…it creates a calming feeling before the concluding piece of the album.

untitled ~for her~: We’ve made it to the final song and it is appropriately a tribute song to the friend she had lost. The pace of the song is slow and steady and creates a nostalgic and bittersweet feeling of the narrator remembering her friend and wishing they had more times together yet accepting that she has lost her friend and hopes that they will be together one day when she too leaves this world. The lyrics speak for themselves so I do not need to go into too much detail about them. I do know this friend has appeared in many of Ayu’s past lyrics so I can feel the pain along with her when listening to this song. It is a touching piece and composed very well. When I first read the lyrics to this song I do admit to tearing up…it is a very powerful piece.

Thank you guys for reading my review and I hope you all enjoyed it…feel free to send me questions, comments, or correct me if I made a mistake etc. I am always happy to share in my love of Ayu and especially this album which if I ever ranked Ayu albums (in itself a difficult job) would be near the top because of the great emotion poured into it. I will try to finish at least a few more reviews of Ayu albums before I go to Japan and hopefully I will be able to snag concert tickets to see Ayu in person soon for when I am going to Japan in August. So wish me luck on that! Thanks again for reading and following and stuff…yay!