No album has ever been so A-rin.
The day it was announced that Momoiro Clover Z's Ayaka Sasaki (A-rin) would be releasing her first solo album, "Puninofu" (the name for her fans) worldwide rejoiced. Indeed, after years of asking the question, 'whence cometh
the A-rin solo album,' fans got exactly what they were waiting for.
Some may initially criticize the album for consisting mainly of tracks which were already released in the past. While this is true, there are benefits to this. Before the release of this album, in order to have all of these songs, one would have
to acquire a fairly wide array of different CDs, many of which were limited editions or limited run out-of-print CDs, alongside singles, and even an album from another artist. This makes A-rin Assort, hands down, the most comprehensive release
of all of A-rin's songs out on the market now.
A-rin Assort, by name and visual aesthetic, is the most appropriate theme for the album as a whole. Indeed, the album is like a box of assorted chocolates. There is a plethora of variety and the scattershot of different genres present on
the disk are such that at least one song is bound to catch the interest of even the most unsuspecting of passersby. Such is the infectiousness of the
Of course, it helps to have songwriters who are able to capture the A-rin personality, and there are few better at that than renowned pop idol songwriter Hyadain. Hyadain's signature style is the one most prominently featured
on A-rin Assort, as eight out of the 15 tracks were by him. The album starts with the A-rinture, which has been used as the overture track for A-rin's
Ayaka Nation series of solo concerts and makes references to all of her greatest hits, helping to set the tone for the release. Happy
Sweet Birthday celebrates A-rin's 24th birthday and features a bridge section that makes reference to the one in the classic Datte A-rin Nandamon, except with a more mature sound now that she's an adult, as opposed to the
14 year-old she was when Datte A-rin Nandamon was recorded.
The 1950s-inspired rock n' roll songs
My Cherry Pie and My Hamburger Boy, and the trilogy of A-rin solo songs Datte A-rin
Nandamon, A-rin wa Hankouki, and A-rin wa A-rin are all classics. The latter of these songs offers one of the most amusing bridge sections on the album, involving Franz
Schubert's famous piece Der Erlkönig.
Hyadain's energetic new song Shigoto Shiro has also become an instant hit with fans, if A-rin's artist page on Spotify is any indication.
Hyadain's contribution, significant as it is, isn't the only highlight on A-rin Assort. Songs like Bunny Gone Bad and Grenade help to expand the sense of variety already present on the album. Bunny Gone Bad is
a heavy metal song with riffage that makes the song feel very rhythmically dynamic. Grenade goes in a completely different direction. As a work by TeddyLoid, it is a completely electropop song that makes A-rin sound almost like
a vocaloid, including giving her an artificial vibrato which skirts the auditory equivalent of the uncanny valley. The song Sorademo Nijidemo Hoshidemonai is a sweet ballad that caps off A-rin Assort with thank yous (as "A-ringatou")
wrapping the album with a sentimental bow.
The superb variety of musical styles present on A-rin Assort would be all for naught without the vocal performances, of course. A-rin has matured a lot as a vocalist, and this can be seen when contrasting the old songs from
2011 and 2012 with the more recent ones.
A-rin's technical abilities, while subtle, are implemented very tastefully and help to elevate the songs; this is especially apparent with her small ornamentations in the ballads. Mostly, her vocal delivery can be described as sweet and precise. Even in
the context of a heavy metal song like Bunny Gone Bad this sweet precision is still just as striking as the aggression of the instrumental. A-rin is certainly a versatile vocalist, able to make any of the necessary adaptations, large or
small, to fit the character of any song while retaining her personality, which is the ultimate goal of any solo A-rin song.
When an album hits 15 tracks, it is difficult to accurately describe it while maintaining a sense of brevity, especially when an album has such density and personality as A-rin Assort. It's safe to say that A-rin Assort delivers
the best experience one can hope to expect from a debut solo album by the one and only Ayaka Sasaki and, indeed, fans seem pleased by it. In such trying times, an album like A-rin Assort is the perfect remedy for the quarantine blues.
A-rin Assort can be streamed on Spotify, YouTube (in Japan), and Amazon Prime Japan, and it is also available as a CD in a regular version or multiple limited versions. All limited versions include the album, a making-of Blu-ray and a 40-page
magazine all about A-rin.