J-POP OVERVIEW

CHEMISTRY - Second to None

Released: 1/8/03

Second to None CHEMISTRY has made it. This the R&B duo's second album, and they are very popular. Let's see what they have in store for us this time.

Track 1 is just a very short intro track that serves as a nice opening for the first song, so you can just forget about it. The first song is the single, "It Takes Two". This is a decent moderate-tempo R&B track, that is quite popular. It is up to their standards, but they have better singles.

Track 3 is a new song titled "STILL ECHO". This is the best new song on the album. It has a soft electric guitar intro a la LUNA SEA. This is a beautiful ballad with a highly addictive melody. This is a very nice song.

Track 4 is CHEMISTRY's most recent single, "My Gift to You". This is an incredible ballad that only gets better every time you hear it. This song is so good, it is irresistible. It is probably one of the best ballads released last year.

Track 5 is a new song titled "Running Away". The style of this song can become annoying really quickly somehow. It is not a ballad, it is a kind of overly energetic song that doesn't really go anywhere. But it's not that bad. CHEMISTRY's ballads are definitely the best, but it is good that once in a while they break free to add a little variety. The results just weren't the greatest here. This song is the B-side from the "kimi o sagashiteta ~New Jersey United~" single.

Next is a decent ballad titled "BACK TOGETHER" again. This B-side from the "FLOATIN'" single showcases their excellent style, but this particular song won't knock your socks off either. It's just there, doing a pretty good job of what it is. It is followed by a noisy little interlude.

"No Color Line" was performed by just Kawabata Kaname instead of both members. (Don't worry, Dochin will get his turn later.) This song features children singing along with Kawabata between each chorus, which can be a little annoying, but gives the song the child-like character that the song's happy and bright attitude warrants. This is a pretty nice song, and Kawabata stands on his own just fine.

Next is the very popular single, "FLOATIN'". Unlike many of their singles, this song is not a ballad. It is a much more upbeat, danceable R&B track. It's very catchy and funky. It is cool.

Track 9 is "SOLID DREAM", one of the songs from the "It Takes Two / SOLID DREAM / MOVE ON" single. This is another great ballad. This is a pretty good song with some small traditional Japanese instrumental touches. They are quite smart to stick with ballads for many of the songs on the album. It is definitely their strong suit.

Track 10 is "Let's Get Together Now", the "Tokyo Calling" version. Originally CHEMISTRY performed this song with Sowelu, Brown Eyes, and Lina Park for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Official Album. These Japanese and Korean artists joined together in a true showing of diplomatic good will to perform this song, which had Japanese, Korean, and English lyrics. The "Tokyo Calling" version featured on this album is the CHEMISTRY-only version with completely Japanese lyrics. This is a nice catchy little happy song. It is kind of nice that they made their own version for this album, but for a really spectacular performance, check out the full performance with all the artists on the World Cup album.

Track 11, "RIPTIDE", is performed by Dochin Yoshikuni all by himself. This is a very slow accapella song (no instruments, all voice). This is actually quite a beautiful performance. Well done.

Track 12 is another very slow and soft song titled "tsukiyo". It has a real 'end of the album' feel to it, giving the listener the impression that the album is winding down, so it is interesting that it isn't quite the last song. This is another pretty song, but by now it's possible listeners will be getting sick of the lack of variety.

"MY WAY" is just a nice happy good bye for the ending of the album. This moderate tempo piece with a slight funk style is a nice change of pace from the rest of the album. This is pretty decent.

There is a bonus track, which is a new version of the single, "kimi o sagashiteta ~New Jersey United~". The new version has wedding bells and a full gospel choir, so it is quite a spectacular change. The song is still the very beautiful ballad it always was. This is a fine new version of what was already an excellent song.

This album is overall very decent, so it is hard to complain. The singles are all great-to-excellent, so no problems there. There are also some great new songs on here. The lack of variety, however, will bore some listeners who aren't ready for an all-out CHEMISTRY ballad-fest. It is true that they perform ballads very well, and it is definitely their strength, but after hearing an album where most of the songs are that same ballad-like R&B style, it can get old. The recent Ken Hirai album, "LIFE is...", does a better job of handling this, with a more varied selection of songs. "Second to None" is quality-packed however, and should more than satisfy those looking for this style of music.

Overall Rating: 8 - Pretty good.

Track list:
01. Intro-lude ~You're My Second to None~
02. It Takes Two
03. STILL ECHO
04. My Gift to You
05. Running Away
06. BACK TOGETHER AGAINInterlude ~@Electric Lady Studio, NYC~
07. No Color Line
08. FLOATIN'
09. SOLID DREAM
10. Let's Get Together Now (Tokyo Calling)Interlude ~@Yuigahama, KAMAKURA~
11. RIPTIDE
12. tsukiyo
13. MY WAY
BONUS TRACK:
kimi o sagashiteta ~New Jersey United~

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