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Album Review #4: Sawayama (Rina Sawayama)

Updated: May 28


Image from: DOWNLOAD ALBUM: Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA (Deluxe Edition) [Zip File] | 042Jamz


A couple of rules for this series:


- I will ONLY review studio albums. That means no reviews on EPs, compilations, remix albums, etc.


- Repackaged album will NOT be included in the reviews


After I comment on each track, I will give my final rating and brief summary of the entire album. Enjoy!

Track 1: Dynasty

The album opens up with one heck of an intro! Dynasty begins with an airy atmosphere before adding a menacing drum beat and church bell. Before we know it, the song transforms into a Evanescene-esque rock sound, bringing out the monster hidden within itself.






Track 2: XS

XS is early 2000s through and through, that it feels like this came out during that era. Pop music should go back to this style, and Rina proves it. Her voice is engaging throughout this track, singing over an appealing instrumentation. There's also some rock element thrown on here, giving this song an interesting texture.






Track 3: STFU!

Rina said that she wanted to shock people since she has been away for awhile before the release of this single. It definitely shocked me. I guess I wasn't that shocked because she can definitely make this sound work in her favor. The "shut the fuck up" line repeating itself is a little annoying a first, but the overall sound of STFU! can't be ignored. Very Limp Bizkit-like.






Track 4: Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)

To finish off this three-singles run, Rina delivers a fantastic 2000s-influenced dance track in Comme Des Garçons. This song can fit into any department store due to its disco and funk sound, and what a great addition it would be to anywhere public. It livens up the moment!






Track 5: Akasaka Sad

This is my least favorite track from this album. Akasaka Sad borrows the trap element, which is probably why I didn't connect to it immediately. The first chorus wasn't strong enough to impress me. The track does get better as it head towards its ending. The auto tune and beat is a bit uninspiring for me, but I do appreciate some moments of the production.






Track 6: Paradisin

With how poppy it sounds and the atmosphere being feel-good, it's easy to think that Paradisin belongs in a Japanese Video game arcade. This is not a track I will gravitate towards to a lot, but I admire how fun it sounds.






Track 7: Love Me 4 Me

Love Me 4 Me is one of my favorite tracks from this album. Its New jack swing sound can generate some comparisons to the work of Janet Jackson. Even without that, Rina still delivers one hell of a b-side, ensuring its captivating beat will make you dance nonstop.






Track 8: Bad Friend

Bad Friend has that typical radio-friendly sound that I don't usually enjoy. However, the combination of the lyrics and instrumentation is enough for me to praise it. The concept of this track is very heart-tugging, and it helps that the instrumental elicit a sentimental vibe, applying a strong sense of nostalgic tragedy.






Track 9: Fuck This World

Fuck This World contain lyrics I relate to. Due to society and whatnot, I also say "Fuck this world", hoping I can live in a better life on another habitual planet. Enough about my imagination. This song has a charming instrumental, while Rina provide alluring vocals.






Track 10: Who's Gonna Save U Now?

THIS. IS. EPIC.

Who's Gonna Save U Now? is the best song from this album! It's basically Arena rock at its full capacity. Once the chorus comes in, all hell breaks loose. The instrumentation greatly supports Rina's overpowering vocals, opting for a head-banging experience, and what a experience it would be live!






Track 11: Tokyo Love Hotel

After the album's peak during the previous track, Tokyo Love Hotel tones the journey down into a sweet, fizzy-filled pop song. This is a great track to play when driving, while appreciating the song's production and Rina's soothing vocals.






Track 12: Chosen Family

This is where Rina showcase her vocal skills. Chosen Family is a feel-good song, though it may not sound like one. The acoustic and electronic combo is very absorbing here, enough to evoke an uplifting emotion. Rina compliments the instrumental with her soul-stirring voice.






Track 13: Snakeskin

The outro is very unique. Snakeskin could've been a ballad at first, but it takes a detour in favor of a more dramatic, dark tone. This is not a track I would listen to often, but given how the album has been structured, I respect this a lot as an outro. It still has that ambitious tone which I'm a sucker for.


OVERALL RATING: 9/10


People were right. Sawayama deserves the praise it garnered.


It's astonishing to me that this didn't get enough attention from the mainstream public. Some of the songs from this album has that radio feel to them, but in a good way. Rina paid tribute to 2000s pop, which is a sound I wish pop today can go back to. And with the addition of rock and other genres, she made sure this project sounded more grand than it needed to be. As her full debut album, this is an exciting preview of what is going to be in store for her down the road. It's just a shame that this couldn't be nominated in the bigger award shows.


If the Grammy or Brit Awards couldn't nominate this, then I seriously wonder what makes an album superior. Sawayama is as high quality as it can get, and I hope more people recognize that in the upcoming years.


Note: Since I didn't post anything last Friday, I'll try to upload two contents next Friday.

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