review - 29.06.2008 22:00

Their latest best hits album shows there's nothing TRF can't do!

Famous pop group TRF celebrated their 15th anniversary last year by releasing a two disc best-of album, TRF 15th ANNIVERSARY BEST MEMORIES. This 28 track release displays the broad range of the group's styles and talents. While it's their most recent full album, since its release they've put out two new singles, and we hope for many more to come.

Disc One

From the album opener Where to begin, it becomes immediately apparent that one of this group's strengths is its female vocalist YU-KI, whose personality and attitude shines through her voice. The chorus is energizing and celebratory in spirit, and the twinkly electronic synths throughout create a glittery digital world. These are some of the group's trademarks, as the rest of the album will attest, so Where to begin seems like the perfect answer to its own question.

The subsequent track is BOY MEETS GIRL, an upbeat, optimistic number about finding your dreams. It opens with mystical Indian vocals, which follow the refrains throughout the song; for that reason alone this track is a must-hear and demonstrates YU-KI's talent and flexibility as she makes that challenging style her own.

This is followed by two ballads. Samui yoru dakara... includes some wild guitars in the opening and an epic action movie beat at times. Still, the song is a TRF style ballad: very melodic and full of longing. The piano and vocals in the verses are particularly moving and poignant. Secondly, the guitars throughout convey a sort of revelry in suffering and may be the best part of the song. LEGEND OF WIND is a more traditional ballad with a slow pace and soft classical piano. The chorus is sung by both YU-KI and male vocalist DJ KOO, and you'll be carried away on the relaxing current of its relaxing melody. The song's inclusion of a xylophone illustrates another of the group's strengths; you'll find all kinds of sounds in their music.

Track five, Love and Peace Forever, has a very 70's hippie feel, as one might expect from the title. The bass even feels very disco-like at times. The wind instruments aren't a big surprise, but the brief trumpet solo in the bridge definitely is. This is followed by two pop numbers punctuated with keyboards keeping the beat. BRAND NEW TOMORROW stands out because of the chimes and bells that sound throughout, and masquerade is notable for its infernally wild guitar during the bridge and at the conclusion.

Things slow down for the eighth track, JOY, with its lazy pace and nightclub piano. The song has a heavy gospel music influence and though YU-KI's singing is as lovely as always, the lackluster chorus may leave you wishing for TRF's usual energizing style. The most exciting area is the aria during the bridge, which is done by a guest vocalist.

The band returns to its more upbeat pace with Unite! The Night!, which has a very celebratory atmosphere and disco-like bass at times. This is followed by another energizing number, CRAZY GONE CRAZY, a bouncy dance tune adorned with interesting xylophone synths. DJ KOO's rap vocals in the bridge are a definite plus. survical dAnce ~no no cry more~ continues in the same vein with an inspiring you-can-do-it message and dance feel.

EZ DO DANCE breaks away from the dance tune feel, instead transporting us to a trance club. With its fast racing feel, it's the type of track that would be great as an "Initial D" race song. We are all BLOOMIN' has a racing feel as well. With a palpable beat, flickering synths and vocals from YU-KI and DJ KOO that ooze attitude, it's easily one of TRF's most stylish songs. While the dance tunes before had a 90's sensibility, these two race songs feel thoroughly modern.

The first disc concludes with Overnight Sensation~todai wa anata ni yudaneteru~, a full blown disco number. Its highlights are the entertaining bass and the refrain's infectious beat.

Disc Two

Opening the second disc is THIS IS THE JOY, an upbeat dance number with delightfully ill-matched death vocals from DJ KOO. His unnaturally low demonic voice parallels the unusually high falsetto parts from YU-KI, resulting in an intriguing mismatch. Add to that the song's very catchy chorus, and the result is magic. Silver and Gold dance (BATTERY MIX) is a pop number with a jazzy keyboard whose highlight is its various synths, attesting to the creativity of the arranger. KOO's rap vocal bridge elevates the energy level further and balances well with YU-KI’s more classical melody lines.

Track three, ISLAND ON YOUR MIND, is one of TRF's most enjoyable songs. Its selling point is the combination of the track's hip hop feel with the moving riff that opens the song and repeats throughout. Unusual for the band is the refrain, which conspicuously lacks YU-KI. DJ KOO's rap vocal bridge is entertaining and fun as usual, but even his singing in the chorus is engaging and demonstrates his vocal ability, which really hasn't been displayed enough. It's followed by two very distinctive numbers. Winter Grooves creates a shining winter wonderland with its nonstop glittering synths and lyrics such as "snowy night" and "glittering light." Following this is DESTINY TO LOVE, a melodic dance number that stands apart from the band's other works due to its Spanish guitar.

FUNKY M experiments with a lot of unusual synths, resulting in (as the title would suggest) a very funky number. While the previous track was all YU-KI, track six spotlights DJ KOO, who raps during the verses and sings the chorus. However, it isn't nearly as catchy as his singing in ISLAND ON YOUR MIND. But the song is still enjoyable thanks to KOO's rapping, the prominent bass and the wailing guitar.

Friends is a surprising number from its first few seconds, which open with an organ, to its slower pace, the lazy salon piano and harmonica. It also features YU-KI rapping during the verse (along with DJ KOO). The wind instruments that enter later in the piece raise the level of emotion and provide a nice contrast to the song's less classical elements. CLOSE TO THE END is another slow paced number, this time with a heavy R&B influence. The uncharacteristic beat, seductive bass and sultry vocals from YU-KI make it a hit. Overall, tracks seven and eight demonstrate TRF's ability to successfully create slower songs that can really hold their own.

With trumpets giving it a very distinctive feel, Frame is a laid back pop number with a fun rhythm and a catchy melodic refrain. Simultaneously cheerful and relaxing, the track creates a euphoric oasis for the listener. This is followed by Sign of the Innocence, a dance number with an untraditional disco feel that lends it a surprisingly modern feel.

WIRED (Album Full Version) is one of the strangest and most creative songs on the album. It mixes the classical orchestral world - at times twisting unpredictable violin lines into a high register - with the heavy rock atmosphere produced by loud guitar riffs and unusually aggressive vocals from YU-KI. The classical feeling dominates the bridge through violins (which, towards the song's conclusion, become pretty savage and chaotic), and a disjointed robotic version of DJ KOO's voice overlaps to give the mood an ultra-modern feel.

The twelfth track, Silence whispers, is a racing high energy song with a rock feel produced by its ominous guitar line and bold vocals, though the piano provides a nice contrast. The icing on the cake is the final chorus, where the music drops out and leaves YU-KI shouting "silence whispers."

BRAVE STORY (Dio MIX) is a slow number with both light and heavy guitars and an overall mystical sort of atmosphere, in part created by the mysterious falsetto in the background. Though it's a relaxing track with lovely guitars, the uninspired chorus may leave you wishing for the more traditional TRF sound. The album ends with WORLD GROOVE 3rd Chapter (main message), a slow paced, smooth jazz song whose highlight is the stunning saxophone play. Though not the most captivating track on the album, it will probably grow on you the more you listen to it.

From this album, it seems there is no musical style or instrument TRF won't do, which means there may be songs you don't care for. But, there should also be plenty you'll love. From hip-hop to jazz, dance, rock and incorporating the flavors of various cultures, this two disc release demonstrates the incredible talent and creativity of TRF.
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