The best word I can find to describe my feelings on A ONE is “mixed.” There are things I like about the album, but at the same time, it just doesn’t hit the mark for me.
I can’t help but think of this album on two levels: macro and micro. On the macro level — looking at the album as a cohesive whole — it’s a classic Ayumi Hamasaki album. It’s got her trademark sound. It looks and feels like her J-Pop albums of old. And yet when I listen to it track by track, I just don’t like it that much. The production quality is great, all of the songs sound like typical Ayu songs, it’s just that I feel as though I’ve heard this entire album before.
I’ve really tried liking this album more — I’ve gone back and listened to it again and again, trying to find something that wasn’t there the first time. And maybe this is one of those albums that will grow on me over time, like many others have. As it stands now, though, I think perhaps I was spoiled too much by COLOURS. My favorite thing about Ayu is when she pushes boundaries and tries something new, even if it doesn’t necessarily work out perfectly. A ONE feels like a step backward.