Review by Nhu Nguyen
Not even a year has gone by and Aki Akane is already out with her second album, titled Dragonfly. The illustrator and singer’s new album comes in a bit short at just 9 songs, but all 9 come out at full force, continuing to prove why she is nicknamed, “Screaming Cinderella”.
The energy displayed throughout the album is quite outstanding, due to Akane’s unique vocals. On opening track “Kando≠Reduction”, she is in your face from the get-go. “Shoutotsu Miraiyosozu” featuring Touyu, has both vocalists feeding off each other’s energy in a shouting-singing battle. The relentless drumming paired with their high energy kept me hitting “repeat.”
Aki Akane doesn’t do huge vocal acrobatics, but she does her best to use her voice to compliment the song. Digi-rock “BBM’s” melody can be mediocre at times, but once the chorus hits, things get interesting when she does an up and down note change between her “ah’s”. Her yearning performance in the chorus of “Astroid no Sakushi” is bound to stay stuck in your head in this mainstream-feeling song.
Metal piece “Bokka Pokka to Suuki na Suuji” features her most interesting vocal work. The vibe of the song is a bit sinister, starting off with a sweet, almost childlike singing voice. However, things change in the chorus as Aki Akane’s take-no-prisoners screams come out. It’s like a duet within herself when Screaming Cinderella takes over and her traditional Cinderella background vocals are sweetly supporting her. Her high-pitched wail (reminiscent of Hatsune Miku) is clearly the song’s climax.
While there’s no doubt that emotion and energy is displayed in Aki Akane’s singing, I start to wonder what kind of condition her voice may be in. In “Tetsupaipu to yoru no ame,” she starts off at a very high register that almost strains her voice. Her voice is clearly being tested on this song as she pushes herself to hit those continuous high notes while keeping the pace. When the song ends, I feel like taking a rest on her behalf, worn out from her overexerted vocals and unyielding energy.
When the song pace slows down a bit, her register goes lower, landing her in a more comfortable singing range. In alternative ballad, “HEAT”, she’s still yelling and singing with emotion, but she reaches her high points much more comfortably. She gets the same result in alternative-emo ballad, “Kikyou-iro no Sayonara” — when she needs to scream, it’s appropriate and the timing is perfect. The emotion and strain in the high notes fit just right.
Aki Akane’s vocal style could be soft and pretty, but she chooses to be unabashed, loud, and rough. Dragonfly mirrors that style exactly: pretty where it has to be, but definitely unabashed, loud, and rough.
Image credit: COCHITORA, Inc. Illustration by AKI AKANE