Man. Party Queen.
I’ll get this out of the way right now: Party Queen is my least favorite Ayu album. Even so, there are things I can appreciate and acknowledge about it.
The thing about Ayu is that most of her albums are quite straightforward. She makes pop music and the vast majority of it is easy to digest. Party Queen is not that. Party Queen is something else entirely.
The only way I can interpret Party Queen is as a concept album: a breakup album to the nth degree. This is an album where looking up the lyrics and watching the music videos isn’t a fun bonus, but a requirement. The point of the album is clear from the lyrics of the very first song.
This continues through the first three songs of the album, which by and large don’t sound anything like Ayu had put out before. Finally we get to an interlude and then straight into an emotional pop ballad, the lyrics to which make it clear what the rest of the album is going to be about.
That’s why I call this a breakup album, and the events of Ayu’s personal life at this point make it obvious why this is the case: she had recently gotten divorced to a man she had been married to for just over a year. As always, she poured her heart and soul into her music, and the result is obvious.
When Party Queen came out, though, I didn’t make the connection, and I didn’t do the legwork to figure it out. The biggest problem with being a fan of an artist whose primary language is one I don’t understand is that I have to rely on translations just to get the gist of what she’s singing about. So when I listened to Party Queen, all I thought I was listening to was the worst album Ayu had ever put out.
On its own, it’s not a strong album. It’s a concept album, and it’s very focused on the concept. But I’ll admit that every time I listen to it, I like it a little bit more. The first couple tracks always throw me for a loop, but once I get past them, the rest gets better every time. Above all else, Party Queen is the best example of an album that takes time to grow on you; it’s not something to listen to once and forget about.