[Album] Kobukuro – 5296

01. Aoku Yasashiku (蒼く 優しく)
02. Coin (コイン)
03. Tsubomi (蕾)
04. Donna Sora Demo (どんな空でも)
05. Kimi to Iu Na no Tsubasa (君という名の翼)
07. Kimiiro (君色)
08. Suimen no Chou (水面の蝶)
09. Kaze no Naka wo (風の中を)
10. Gekkou (月光)
11. Kazamidori (風見鶏)
12. Diary
13. Fragile mind

~Album Review~
Kobukuro released their sixth major label album, “5296,” on December 19, 2007. The album debuted at number two, selling 100,000 copies in one day. This album’s chart trajectory may be worthy of keeping watch on; it should be interesting to see how this album’s chart life is. Already, first week sales suggest “5296” will be a staple of the top twenty for many weeks to come.

“Aoku Yasashiku” is an interesting start to the album; it sounds very Kobukuro through and through, but it fails to play to their strong points. What the listener hears in this song is acoustic guitar, violins, and vulnerable vocals that push Kobukuro to the limit. The song sounds emotive, but misses the powerful melodic power of some of their of their other ballads, including “Tsubomi.”

“Coin” sounds much happier than “Aoku Yasahiku.” “Coin Song” is mid-tempo acoustic pop. There is an organ backing the guitar throughout the song; the beauty lies in the simplicity of the song, which lacks background vocals. This song is music, essentially. The harmonica in the extro is a nice touch to this lounge-feeling track.

“Tsubomi” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The intro alone is beautiful; it sounds like orgel. Most likely, it is keyboards introducing the melody to the song. When lead vocals enter, the song changes to only a guitar backing; the bridge changes into a duet alongside violins and simple beat. The chorus is particularly strong, and the melody of the intro returns, this time with the passion of Kobukoro singing along.

“Donna Sora Demo” is a pretty song that uses a background choir of ordinary voices in the ending portions of the song to set itself apart. As such, this song picks up momentum and energy as the song progresses, becoming a big song that doesn’t end with Kobukuro’s normal grace. Over all, the song has a nice hook, making it a strong album track.

“Kimi to Iu Na no Tsubasa” is another single track, featuring on “ALL SINGLES BEST.” The song is upbeat and passionate. It has some elements of pop to it, but barely. Over all, the piano and the violins sound fast-paced, and lead in to a powerhous chorus. “Kimi to Iu Na no Tsubasa” is a great upbeat song that still has that emotion Kobukuro is known for, but speeds up their music in a great way.

“WHITE DAYS” is another ballad; at this point, it’s starting to become overkill considering the strong tracks that the album has. Thankfully, this song is still strong and more piano based (as opposed to guitar) compared to the last few tracks, but musically it’s not terribly difference. Lyrically (an aspect I don’t have time to research) this song is probably much different.

“Kimiiro” begins with guitar riffs before switching back to more traditional Kobukuro fare. The song is mid-tempo acoustic; it features an interesting basis for its beat, as well as harder guitar. “Kimiiro” is a break from the onslaught of ballads, but not much else.

“Suimen no Chou” marks a power transition for Kobukuro; they finally leave behind acoustic pop rock and head into faster, harder rock (it’s by no means heavy). There’s guitar riffs, Kobukuro’s vocals, and a good drum beat. From “Suimen no Chou,” it looks like Kobukuro could put out some more faster rock – it’s good.

“Kaze no Naka wo” feels kind of country-tinged. It’s definitely giving the album variety with what sounds most like a banjo. Perhaps the best element of the song is the joy in it, something Kobukuro doesn’t often capitilize on. There’s also the English “Hey now!” throughout the song, along with harmonica. This song may have American country roots, but Kobukuro owns it.

The transition to the next song, “Gekkou,” is somewhat forced, but not horribly (the tempo is at least kept going). “Gekkou” is rock once more, but it sounds much more raw than “Suimen no Chou.” It’s not bad; it has a great crescendo and chorus, but it just doesn’t feel well-produced.

“Kazamidori” feels quite familiar, which really makes it fall into the background on an album filled with ballads. It’s nice, but the instrumentation, vocals and sound have been done before. Nevertheless, the extro of the song is beautiful.

“Diary” seems to encompass the rest of the album quite well. It has pop synthetic elements, more classical elements such as violin, and contemporary acoustic guitar. It’s mid-tempo and nice, over all.

“Fragile Mind” is probably the best album track of all. It combines the rock seen in mid-album tracks with the emotion of “Tsubomi,” creating a passionate, forward looking ending to a great album. What more is there to ask for?

Kobukuro has been at the height of their game ever since the release of “SAKURA.” More recently, their album, “ALL SINGLES BEST,” has become one of the best selling Japanese albums of the new millennia in Japan. With such success, it was imperative to maintain their momentum with “5296.” Not only did Kobukuro have to create a great album (expectations have been high), but they had to mix older feelings and elements found throughout their discography with something new. In the end, Kobukuro largely succeeded on this album. The album is very acoustic, maybe too acoustic. Essentially, if Kobukuro messed up on the album, they only did so minimally. The only other error would be not all tracks came all that close to greatness; some do, others don’t. Otherwise, “5296” is an album that is largely able to transcend its genre. In other words, it’s worth a listen.

94% A

5 Responses to “[Album] Kobukuro – 5296”

  1. 1 Niomi December 25, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I agree, 5296 is a wonderful album! Also thank you for the great reviews you have been putting out. Your eye for quality in music is a welcome breath of fresh air. I will continue to read your site with anticipation – keep up the good work!

  2. 2 jayhan December 27, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    their albums/singles always the best seller… their songs are really good, but i havent try this new album though. but i think definitely it’s a must listen piece.

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