Koda Kumi - Love & Honey

review - 04.11.2009 08:00

Love & Honey is a musical delight.

Koda Kumi's eleventh maxi-single, Love&Honey, hit #4 on the Oricon charts shortly after its release in May 2004. Featuring four songs and two instrumentals, it was her first release for her "sexy" era.

For fans of "Cutie Honey," the opening track to Koda Kumi's Love & Honey is an exciting one, featuring the theme for the popular television show. Such a famous song can't ever be bad, but in this version, the melody itself seems to be at lightspeed compared to Koda's singing, which is slightly awkward and gives the overall song a rushed feeling. The vocals, however, make up for this and Koda truly shines in her performance, making Cutie Honey come to life; listeners can easily envision the cartoon heroine. Despite everything, Cutie Honey is full of energy from the first few seconds to the very end and is an enjoyable listen.

Koda's second track lets us catch our breath and relax with her ballad, The theme of Sister Jill. The song, which lacks a formal melody and spans only one minute and twelve seconds, is an angelic song with a gentle female background harmony and comforting lyrics by Koda Kumi. The song holds only three stanzas in full English, but the words are very powerful. Despite being such a pretty track, its abrupt ending makes the song feel robbed of its true worth.

Yogiri no Honey continues the same jazzy R&B trend, its opener accented with finger snaps and sparkles as Koda's background vocals chant, "Sweet Sweet Honey," leading us into the first lyrical stanza. The song, which is guided by a deep piano melody and the continuous two second snaps, is a very slow track but can be appreciated for the uniqueness it brings to the table. Koda's vocals come to life in this song, which sounds as if it could double as a Christmas carol, making this the most memorable off the single.

The longest song on the album, Into your heart, has a strong 80's feel during its opening with the echoed background singers and keyboard composition, but that changes when Koda graces the stage. She spices up the ensemble with her catchy vocals and jazzy additions to the arrangement. It is hard to stay in your seat listening to Into your heart, and you can't help but want to dance, listening to the great instrumental solos and encouraging voices of her backup singers. The song builds and releases, throws in surprises and takes us for a wild ride before it fades out, leaving a very satisfying feeling.

The karaoke version of Cutie Honey is the twin to the first track, featuring the fast-paced electronic rhythm theme. Sans vocals however, the song sounds like something straight out of an action packed video game, and it is just not as enjoyable without Koda's accompaniment.

Into your heart's instrumental is much nicer than Cutie Honey's, but the lack of lyrics really make it feel like something is missing as the song builds up for the chorus and then plateaus. Unlike other karaoke tracks, the background vocals are also absent, so while the song is a good one, it does not have that original magic.

Koda Kumi didn't miss a beat with her pleasurable release of Love & Honey. Full of familiarity and surprise, it is a maxi-single that is worth every minute and shouldn't be overlooked.
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