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d u t y

First Review by Hiro

The album kicks off with an technoish intro track titled "starting over". This time Ayumi's vocals are incorporated into the song. Some "lalala" phrases and some backup voices. Listening to this track, you'd think that the whole album will sound similar to this but don't be fooled. Immediately after this, "duty" begins with it's depressing violin intro. This is a very nicely crafted ballad. It doesn't grab you right away especially if you're not very used to classical music but soon enough the haunting melody will captivate you.

After those two songs comes "vogue". The song has a strong Middle Eastern influence which uses bongo drums and other instruments. It seems a little too exotic for the album at first but it works really well. The music itself is upbeat while Ayumi's voice is filled with melancholy. An addictive yet bittersweet song which will make you hungry for more.

The next track is called "End of the World". This time Ayumi fuses her signature ballad style with rock music. The results are quite pleasing. "End of the World" is a powerful song full of sharp contrasting verses. It is a little repetitive but the song is so amazing that you'll forget about it.

The next three songs builds up nto what I call the peak of the album. When I say peak I don't mean in terms of quality but just the most intense part of the album. First off, we have "SCAR". It's a nice flowing ballad, just a standard Ayumi ballad. The song builds up into a climax near the end of the song but even then it never gets too intense. This is probably the most boring track on the album but it's still a good listen. After that we have, "far away". Another ballad (aren't they all) but the melody and chorus evoke a more intense urgency. Right after that we have "SURREAL", the "peak" of this album. It starts off with a quick piano melody then Ayumi joins in to build the climax. This is the probably the best song in the album. I just can't describe it woth words. You just have to experience it to know.

If you're looking for that fast-tempoed song that were so abundant in "LOVEppears" this is it. Fortunately, it's another good song just not as serious as the others but full of energy. Listening to it reminds me of anime.

As with all her albums, the last few tracks slow down the pace of the album. After "AUDIENCE" we have "SEASONS". It's probably the most popular song in this album and probably the most simplest. Even though it is simple, Ayumi gives it that special emotional umph that it needs. It's not really my type but people in to romantic ballads will surely like this. The next track is called "teddy bear". It's a very emotional song but not to that it becomes mushy. She's practically crying while she's singing the song. It's like hearing her heart break in two. The only instrument used here is a piano which complements her singing nicely. After this comes "Key~eternal tie ver.~. It's a laid back rock song and also one of my favourites. It's quite short though, only lasting about 3 minutes.

The final song of the album is quite a surprise. It's quite different from the whole album since the style is tottaly different. It has a very retro rock feel. It sounds quite nice but it's not for everyone.

The "duty" album is another great effort by Ayumi. Even though it lacks in quantity and variety it makes up for in many ways. Just listen to it and see what I mean.

Rating: 9.9/10

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