Rie Sugimoto – Lilia


Review by · January 24, 2009

Falcom, the source of much awesome from the late 1980s on, was at one point almost more of a record label than a game studio. In 1990, Falcom was right in the middle of a myriad of new, exciting projects, ranging from the takeoff of their Legend of Heroes series to a third successful Special Box, and on March 26, they held the “Miss Lilia” Contest, where out of 1,873 contestants, 15-year old Rie Sugimoto won the top prize – a record label and entertainment debut provided by Falcom themselves. Though Falcom had ventured quite far into music production territory before, this was something almost unrelated to their games, though technically winning the contest made Rie Ys II’s “image girl” as well.

The first album to come from this new arrangement is, not surprisingly, Lilia, a four-track EP-length disc. Since it came out on the cusp on a new era in music, its a mash of 90s and 80s sounds that are most assuredly cheese-tastic. Lilia, and the several albums that came after it, mix arranged versions of classic Falcom tunes with new, original compositions written solely for the album. The first track is one such song; a shuffle pop-rock number similar to Falcom’s Special Box vocals, but lacking that shimmering composition and sound quality found on the Falcom Vocal Collections. The tune wanders around a lot, but fans of sugar-sweet pop may find enjoyment here.

Track two is a faithful arrangement of Ys II’s “Too Full With Love.” and not altogether bad. Most arrangements of this tune tend of border on plodding, so its nice to hear something a little more upbeat – though this version is easily eclipsed by the lovely arrangement of Ys II’s “Music From” album. Still, this song is the highlight of the album and probably aged the best out of the bunch.

Following that is another Ys arrangement, this time of “Lilia.” Yea, no remixes of Feena! As if there was a shortage of those. This track is unfortunately very cheesy, even more than the first one. Rie’s vocals are fine, but the arrangement offers little over the dramatic, gorgeous original “Vocal From Ys” version, or the London Philharmonic take, both of which have aged far, far better and have some lush, live instrumentation. The take here does have its moments, like the nice synth sting sample and the always-cool church bells, but overall is a little uninspired.

Closing out the album is a Beatles’ cover, “Goodbye,” which is just too much for me to take seriously. Really, just listen to it. Sounds a little bit like it belongs on Sesame Street, but I guess that makes sense considering they’re pushing the “cute” side of things pretty hard on this album.

All told, there’s not much here unless you’ve a huge Falcom fan, or just love excessively cutesy cheesy music. Look forward to Rie’s next album, and beyond, for a much better and mature sound.

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