Utada
Exodus

Island
2005
B
Reviewed by: Rob Carolan
Reviewed on: 2006-01-09



Posted 01/09/2006 - 09:43:38 AM by ketsume717:
 Um... this came out more than a year ago. Why the review now? Also, Utada's been writing her own music since her first album and, as far as I understand, has been given pretty much free reign on her music. I also don't think anything on Exodus is as good as the highs on her last (and imo her best) album, Deep River. Yes, much of J-pop is under very tight record label control, but at the same time there's never been a lack of talented pop artists in Japan who are given creative freedom and still (or because they) manage to shift units (e.g. Shiina Ringo, Ayumi Hamasaki, Hitomi Yaida, Soulhead, Yo Hitoto, Ua... hmm no men on that list, I guess I'll add Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi and Yosui Inoue, even if they're past their prime). To sum it up, I agree with your assessment that it's a good album, but I disagree that it's a brave statement by an artist trying to free herself from the shackles of her record label. She's actually had it quite good.
 
Posted 01/09/2006 - 10:16:13 AM by Rob_Carolan:
 The reason for the review being written now is because it was recently only just released here in the UK, with new artwork and several add on remixes to boot. I agree that there are a number of J-Pop artists out there who are given creative control and still manage to shift units, but in my opinion I felt Utada's album was different for the sheer fact that its such a bizarre and experimental piece of work. None of the songs on the album sound necessarily chart bound, and I believe for an artist like Utada that was a huge risk to take with her career. Few J-pop albums I have heard have even come close to the kind of ambition I found on this record. To sum up, thats why I found this record to be somewhat special.
 
Posted 01/09/2006 - 12:24:57 PM by ketsume717:
 Experimental? Really? I thought it was more or less a logical progression from Deep River (except for the Workout--in a good way--and the Timbaland tracks--you're right, in a bad way). "Devil Inside," for example, sounds like an update of "Traveling." It's a good progression. It just didn't surprise me the way her previous album did, the way Hikkie suddenly seemed to have grown up and matured overnight. I also unfortunately only had managed to listen to the English version of this album, and I feel her English lyrics are positively clunky compared to her Japanese lyrics. (It's not necessarily a bad thing. I like Shakira's English stuff but I have a feeling I might cringe if I were fluent in Spanish and was able to fully ingest her Spanish stuff.) You're right, J-Pop artists aren't inclined to experiment sonically, even though that doesn't stop them from making some brilliant pop music (That being said, they do get away with a surprising bit in the lyrics department. I've often dismissed a song because it sounded conventional only to listen to the lyrics and see it in a completely new light). And Hikkie's sound is unique in the J-pop field. But because Exodus didn't feel like that much of a departure to me, it just didn't feel as remarkable as, say, Ringo Shiina's "Shoso Strip" and Ua's first album. On a separate note, how does one go about accessing Japanese music in the UK? I miss that stuff.
 
Posted 01/09/2006 - 03:39:34 PM by badhaircut:
 This was my #2 album of the year... in 2004.
 
Posted 01/09/2006 - 03:41:19 PM by badhaircut:
 Not to try to sound like an asshole or anything. And I was disappointed that the blogosphere seemed to completely ignore this album while triumphing a lot of really unimpressive flux-pop in the meantime, so I guess I am glad to see this up now.
 
Posted 01/09/2006 - 11:24:53 PM by Neo_Vincent:
 Just answer me this....is it as good as Takako Minekawa's "Fun 9"? I was heavy into the Shibuya-Kei scene when I was 13-ish or so, I really used to dig all those bands (Cornelius, P5, Fantastic Plastic Machine et. al)
 
Posted 01/10/2006 - 01:49:27 AM by Neo_Vincent:
 K, Never mind my last post...My misconception has to do with the last Utada track that I've heard being "Can You Keep A Secret" & "In My Room" and being unimpressed. But after listening to "The Workout"...yeah. Totally different. And good. ^_^
 
Posted 01/10/2006 - 06:27:16 AM by ketsume717:
 Yeah, Neo, I felt the same way about early Hikkie. Her last two albums (including this one) have been pretty good, though.
 
Posted 01/10/2006 - 10:17:36 AM by Rob_Carolan:
 Ketsume- How does one go about accessing j-pop in the uk? Hmmm... well, not with alot of ease in all honesty. Occasionally imports will pop up in certain stores, but thats a real rarity. In general, j-pop is completely off the map in the UK. Thats why despite this album being kind of old for some people (badhaircut, I look your way), like I said in my previous comment, it did only just get officially released here in the UK, which I thought was something of an achievement in itself, considering so little j-pop makes its way here. All in all, for someone like myslef who loves j-pop its a very frustrating situation. I still haven't even heard Ringo Shiina's "Strip" album, which I'm finding particularly vexing at the moment considering I keep hearing such amazing things about it!
 
Posted 02/09/2006 - 12:50:43 PM by rachaeljevons:
 handsome and talented, robin carolan, is there anything you can't do?
 
Posted 02/09/2006 - 12:51:33 PM by rachaeljevons:
 p.s. you've made me want to listen to this album.