Rie Sugimoto, the winner of Falcom’s “Miss Lilia” contest, released a series of albums during the 90s with Falcom. Krelia is the second album. For more information on the history of Rie and Falcom, see the review for Lilia, the first album.
Following the cheesy Lilia comes a full-length album, Krelia. I know I said they get better as they released more albums, but the first track seems to make me a liar. This is cute at its most sugary, maple syrupy core. Once it gets 30 or 40 seconds in, it sounds like it’s going to pick up, and then it just repeats. Some really bad choice of synth samples in here too.
Thankfully that changes with the next tune, “Hohoemi no Kagi” (or the overly literal translation that seems to permeate the web, “The Key to Smile.”) An awesome, bombastic intro with a very classic Falcom sound opens the track. It sounds like Ryo Yonemitsu had a hand in several tracks on the album, as its simply saturated with his style (and his typical synth choices – that’s a good thing.) Definitely one of the best tracks on the album, and “See You Again,” the song it’s based off of, is a great song itself, which helps.
Jumping past a fairly bland track three, we come to “The Rain Hurts…Why?,” a gorgeous take on Ys I’s “The Morning Grow.” Again, Yonemitsu is in full force here, and the track sounds very much like it came from Perfect Collection Ys. While not as epic as the vocal version found on said album, this one is still excellent and has some stunning moments like the classical guitar solo and the typically great keyboard work Yonemitsu churns out.
Track 5, an original song titled “A Blue Angel,” has a gorgeous intro, and the rest of the song is definitely a step up from what’s been offered on the non-game music side of things so far. It’s very reminiscent of some of Kozo Murashita’s songs. Murashita was an acoustic guitarist popular in the 80s all the way until his death in 1999, and fairly prolific, so I would not be surprised if this tune emulates his style a bit. Eventually the song speeds up to a blistering pace before fading out. The quality of the original tracks continues into track 7 and 9.
“My Older Lover” is a very loose (and blaring) remix of the wistful Redmont theme from Ys III, but unfortunately it deviates so far from the source material, about :30 in there’s no trace of the original song left. What remains is ok, in a corny kind of way, but the stuff actually pulled from the main tune is the best part. This track is also notable for its unabashedly cheesy intro, which just screams 80s. Continuing this trend is “Magical Heart,” which kind of makes me sick with its twittering flutes and peppy beat. At least this one follows the source material, “Dancing on the Road” a lot better. A cool break around 1:25 features a break from the uber-cuteness, a cool synth solo, and what I assume is Yonemitsu singing “Sha La La La La” in the backgound, which made my day.
“Krelia,” the final tune of the album, is not based on any Ys composition despite its name (Cleria at the center of many Ys titles) and is a slow ballad. I am biased and don’t really like drums in ballads very much – for an example of a ballad done right, see the sorrowful “Hitori” from Drag-on Dragoon/Drakengard 2 – so I don’t like a lot of what’s going on in the track. It’s pretty generic pop, and the choice to throw in Led Zeppelin’s “Levee” break in there is just strange, but I can see some people digging it.
I haven’t talked much about Sugimoto’s voice, but for being 15-16 years old, she sounds pretty good. There are some little squeaks in her voice, but I am pretty sure that’s on purpose for the whole cute image thing. She holds her notes well and doesn’t go out of tune, so good marks on her voice at a young age. She does get even better with time though, as one can hear in her next full album, Celceta.
Overall, the album is a huge step up from Rie’s debut, but both her vocal talent and the arrangements continue to improve with the next two albums.