Misono's Say sounds like a work in progress, showing potential but not quite delivering the goods. The album is nothing new in the grand scheme of things -- just plain straightforward rock with an Avril Lavigne-styled guitar tone and huge emphasis on harmony -- but it's a development within the female J-pop paradigm, signifying an ongoing shift from electronic dance-pop to harder, guitar-driven music. The trend was led by Olivia and Anna Tsuchiya, to say nothing of Ayumi Hamasaki, so Misono is following some big names here, and at her best she can pull it off convincingly -- listen to her nice youthful voice soaring above the simple riff of "Zasetsu Chiten" or the guitar/strings interchange of "Triangle." "Black & White" is especially good with its mildly menacing crawl, even if Misono isn't the first to pit emotive singing against the midtempo guitar drone (that can be traced all the way back to 1986 Queensrÿche). The problem with Say is, however, that it lacks memorable hooks and wears thin fast. Melody-wise, Misono has nothing to offer that wasn't overdone before -- upbeat and mildly dramatic moods are a dime a dozen on the J-rock scene; the post-grunge riffs beefing those songs up are uninventive and repetitive; and the ballads are so trite it's almost embarrassing. All in all, Say is like a good demo that waits for the finishing touch to make it catchy, only that touch never comes. A bit strangely, the album still leaves a good impression, but you'll be hard-pressed to remember why.
AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko