ALBUM REVIEW: The End by Mika Nakashima (2006)

Photo coming soon…

This is my first review in quite a while, but I intend to do more in the future (including albums by artists such as Andrea Bocelli and Emily Bear). This 2006 album is the subject of this review.

Tracklist:

1. Hitoiro (One Color)
2. Eyes for the Moon
3. Glamorous Sky
4. Blowing Out
5. My Medicine
6. Neglest Mind
7. Real World
8. Isolation
9. Blood
10. Hitoiro (ALTAnative)
11. My Way (Claude Francois Cover – Sid Vicious Version)

This album marked Mika Nakashima’s only time ever releasing an album under the name “NANA Starring Mika Nakashima,” pertaining to her work in the two NANA movies. This time around, I won’t go into a blow-by-blow description of each song like I usually do, but give you the gist of what the album as a whole sounds like.

The first two songs were released in 2006 for the NANA 2 motion picture, and follow identical moods, except “Hitoiro,” the second and last single released for this disc, is a little more melancholy than “Eyes for the Moon,” its B-side. The former utilizes tubular bells, flutes, and violins to create an interesting symphonic rock sound, while the latter is more straightforward alternative rock in a way.

“Glamorous Sky,” the theme from the original NANA film, is absolutely brilliant. It begins with subdued vocals by Mika and a buildup in the electric guitar track before segueing into a full-fledged upbeat rock song without drowning out her voice. “Blowing Out” has its moments, but seems more dependent on a slower tempo than almost all the other songs on here. Not bad, though.

“My Medicine” is one of two English songs featured here. It falls along the lines of something the Ramones might’ve normally produced (remember “I Wanna Be Sedated?”). Mika doesn’t go over the top, although the screeching electric guitar solo seems bent on swamping her otherwise noticeable vocal nuances. The next two songs, “Neglest Mind” and “Real World,” are at their best straightforward songs that remind me of tunes such as Paramore’s “The Only Exception.”

“Isolation” is an interesting midtempo grunge song, kind of like Gwen Stefani and her band No Doubt used to do even before she went solo. As for “Blood,” it’s highly enjoyable, what with its driving drum rhythms and soaring refrain. What follows that track is a punk version of “Hitoiro,” but that version is pathetic; stick to the original version.

“My Way” is an old favorite that has been remade by too many artists to mention since Claude Francois first recorded it as “Comme d’h
abitude” in 1967, with Frank Sinatra’s version being the definitive to this day. The version that Mika does here is Sid Vicious’ version, complete with the F-word being used a couple of times. This is probably one of the only times I can say that I don’t like a Mika track, mainly because “My Way” itself is a vocally demanding song and Mika’s vocals on it are totally unlike what she’s done even on her later releases. In other words: The final track on here could’ve been better.

PROS: Some interesting songs, all of which show Mika taking a rock direction.

CONS: Lacks variety, and plus, while Nakashima actually handles many of the tunes well vocally, some of the songs don’t suit her at all.

BOTTOM LINE: Not bad, but I’ve heard better from Ms. Nakashima.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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