In many ways, Gossip is a natural progression from Ikio Ayaka’s debut. The elements that made up her debut are all present, but things are a little glossier now. It feels like Ayaka’s producers are really pushing her to become a mainstream pop-star, which is hardly surprising, but some of what made her stand out from the crowd has vanished along with the rough edges. While I compared the sound of her first album to Mstrkft and Tiga, this album is a little closer to Timbaland and Rihanna. There are some songs here that are better than anything on Re: Acid Queen. ‘Cat’s Free’ is expertly put together with tight synth-work and strong melodies. ‘Plastic Baby’ has Ayaka’s rapping voice being sharply pitch-bent to great effect. These two tracks are excellent and set the bar high for the rest of the album. The album opener, lead single ‘Get Out’, absolutely would have fit in with her debut and is a fantastic single (though the video ? see below ? is boring and generic). The second half of Gossip doesn’t live up to the first three songs though. ‘Spiderweb’ is a pretty good pop song, but ‘Scream’ and ‘Groove is Mine’ are ultimately forgettable. They’re not bad songs, but they aren’t great either ? the kind of songs that you might dance to at a club and never think about again. Ayaka’s cover of The Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy in the UK’ is an odd choice. It’s a decent track, but it certainly doesn’t have the same spirit as the original. A glossy club-dance rendition of one of the most destructive punk bands ever is a truly bizarre choice and it doesn’t come across that Ayaka actually wants to “be an anarchist”. The hyper-sexual lyrics of Ayaka’s debut are toned down on this release, which would be fine but instead of lyrics about sex we’ve got lyrics about, well, nothing really. The theme of the album seems to be a vague sense of attitude, and while her previous work wasn’t exactly a lyrical tour de force, it was at least distinctive. There were moments on Re: Acid Queen where Ayaka’s lyrics came across as empowering in their frankness and this album doesn’t convey that at all. Where before Ayaka came out and sang “Come on suck me” she’s now sounding more submissive with lyrics like, “I don’t care and I don’t mind”. This is still a solid dance album, and a few tracks are exceptionally good, but it doesn’t live up to the potential that Ayaka showed on her debut. There’s nothing wrong with good disposable pop ? which this album excels at ? but Re: Acid Queen had a few moments that were really unique and demonstrated a lot of potential to go beyond Ayaka’s J-pop peers. If you loved her first album, you’ll like this one too, but if you don’t like big pop hits this one might not be for you.
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Description in Japanese
GOSSIP / 壱岐尾彩花
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