Utada Hikaru - Distance

Released: 3/28/01

Distance Fans have waited over two years for a new Utada Hikaru album. Her previous album, "First Love", broke a sales record for the total number of units sold. Releases from the artist have moved at a relatively slow pace since the release of the first album, but now the long wait is finally over and her millions of fans have a second album. During a break from her studies this year at Columbia University, the six new tracks written for this album, along with her recent single, "Can You Keep A Secret?", were apparently recorded last December and January. The efforts have yielded pleasing results. The new songs not only meet the expectations of the fans, but the new album is also definitely better than the previous one, with an overall stronger lineup.

Included on the album are her four most recent singles (some of them not so recent anymore -- "Addicted To You" is from 1999), as well as the six new tracks, plus one remix. All four tracks from her two most recent singles are included on the album, which is great because both of these singles were excellent (J-Fan Jpop gave them each a rating of 10). Between the inherent power of such hit singles as "Addicted To You" and "Can You Keep A Secret?", along with the six new tracks, which are more than decent, we have a real winner of an album here. Music fans are certainly in for a treat.

There's the upbeat and strong pop song, "DISTANCE". The dramatic and sweet "Eternally". Not to mention "SUNGLASS" and "kotobani naranai kimochi", which are both typical, but decent Hikki tracks.

Another new song, "DRAMA", is on track 5. This one is a rock song, rather than R&B, in the same vein as the recent B-side song, "kettobase!". Hikaru was actually a very avid rock fan before her primary musical interest became R&B. The rock tracks are a nice well-performed piece of variety for this album that nicely offsets the predominantly R&B landscape. "kettobase!", the B-side from the recent "Can You Keep A Secret?" single is also included on this album.

On track 10 is a song called "Parody". The funny thing about this song is that it literally is a parody of Utada's music. It combines several musical and lyrical elements found in previous Utada songs in a wacky mixture that still somehow manages to be a competent song all its own. The chorus of "Parody" reminds me most of "Wait & See", with a similar (almost mocking) melody, but keep in mind "Parody" does not feature any clippings or anything of the sort from previous tracks -- It is a completely new song, just to clarify that. The lyrics are also quite amusing. It's a very clever song that adds to the unique flavor of the album as a whole.

The final track is a remix of "hayatochiri", a song originally from the "Wait & See" single. Utada herself actually helped create this remix! It's a very good remix of the song that holds on to the basic R&B flavor of Utada's music, yet is a drastic departure from the original version of "hayatochiri" (you can hardly recognize the song). Thumbs up for this remix track.

Utada's very 'pop-ish' style isn't for everybody (some people don't like this ultra-pop, ridiculous-sales-figures kind of music), but with that point set aside, it is difficult to imagine how we could not give this album a perfect rating. The singles included are all excellent, highly-rated singles, plus a good selection of new tracks is included. Utada's crisp, emotional R&B style has reached its paramount, and will be highly enjoyed by anyone willing to appreciate it (which is of course a large amount of people). "Distance" is recommended strongly over the previous album, "First Love", which, for whatever reason, simply flew off the shelves for a long period of time. Such record-breaking sales figures are not expected this time around with "Distance", but the amount sold will surely be a number to be reckoned with, well above the sales numbers of the average several-a-year Ayumi Hamasaki release. If you're one of the millions who bought the last Utada Hikaru album, then you'd might as well own this one too.

Overall Rating: 10 - Excellent!

Track list:
01. Wait & See ~RISK~
02. Can You Keep A Secret?
05. DRAMA06. Eternally
07. Addicted To You [UP-IN-HEAVEN MIX]
08. For You
09. kettobase!
10. Parody
12. kotobani naranai kimochi
Bonus Track

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