Utada Hikaru sets new album release for March 19

As scooped by Kevin in comments, Bounce.com also reports the release date for Utada Hikaru’s new album is March 19. The article doesn’t go into much detail, instead opting for a lot of excited language about how anticipated this release will be. No doubt EMI Japan is excited to have a big title ready for Q1 of 2008, given the woes of the recording industry worldwide. (The Economist says CD sales in Japan fell 9 percent in 2007. I guess that’s better than the 19 percent in the US.)

I’ve been enjoying the recent singles, but I know enough to keep my expectations in check. Ultra Blue has the kind of clarity that even the best artists achieve rarely, so anything that comes afterward will almost certainly pale by comparison.

"Flavor of Life" and "Beautiful World" maintain that ethereal sound she mastered on the last album, but it took a while for those songs to grow on me, which wasn’t the case with "Passion" or "Keep Tryin’". It’s almost the same kind of effort I had to put into "Be My Last", but neither song reached the same level of favor.

With two Japanese-language albums following her English-language debut, it makes me wonder whether any of this work spills over into her next English-language album.

[UPDATE, 01/28/2008, 21:05] Utada Hikaru’s official site announced the title of the new album is HEART STATION, making the upcoming single the title track.