review - 10.09.2007 08:00

A stepping stone for MUNEHIRO.

STEP UP!! is MUNEHIRO's second release, and came out in March 2006. This mini-album seems to function as a bridge between her first and second full album, seeing as the song STEP UP!! is the only song that is not featured on any of the other albums.

Japanese proves to be a great opener as it immediately launches into a festive mood, upbeat and playful. MUNEHIRO's voice is very pronounced in the dancehall song, mostly due to the fact that the instruments stay a bit more at the background. The song also features backing vocals, which are almost cheesy with lines such as "dap dap a doo wop dap dap", yet this adds a certain cuteness to the song. With chants of 'Nippon, Nippon!' the song seems to be very suitable to be used as some sort of sports theme.

Next up is Dancehall Lover, which was also released on her second album Up and Coming, just like Japanese. Though the title of the song might make one think that it’s a party song paying homage to dancehall music, it’s instead a rather slow paced dancehall song. MUNEHIRO’s deep and husky voice sounds great in this song, and as always, fits excellently to this type of songs.

STEP UP!! is the only song that hasn’t been released on one of the other albums and therefore a barely known song amongst fans of MUNEHIRO. The riddim (the term used for 'rhythm' in reggae music) used for this song seems hard to label, though the bouncing beat can be best described as a slow dancehall one. The sounds used for the song seem a bit of an odd combination, the riddim using samples of a howling wolf, a rapper joining MUNEHIRO, and even a violin and a saxophone playing. Though it is certainly a unique song, it might start to grate and one might prefer to skip it and move onto the next track.

Then a remix of the song Hana from her first album DRAMA -11 STORIES- follows: Hana LOVERS MIX. The original version is in the pentatonic scale, traditional for Japan, but this time it has been remixed with the normal, diatonic scale which wrings and twists together rather oddly. However, this combination works out surprisingly well, making the song even more interesting by adding some spice, which the slow reggae riddim welcomes warmly.

The mini-album ends with an instrumental version of STEP UP!!, which is actually more enjoyable than the original track, seeing as it has a little less chaos.

The release works really well as a bridge between her first two albums and at the time it came out, it was a nice preview for Up and Coming, which was to be released later that year. Though people that purchase this CD because of the song STEP UP!! only may be slightly disappointed, even if it happens to be exactly their cup of tea. However, the remix of Hana is simply lovely and definitely worth your 1260 yen!
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