Review by David Cirone
Shiho Ochi sure can shout. She’s got the lungs for it, to be sure, and Superfly’s rock-oriented 4th album Force seems determined to prove it. Force is a well-written and versatile collection, and while the album’s production mix is sometimes heavy-handed on the vocals, you’ll feel like you just spent time with a champion-level performer.
Luckily, I received the 2-disc special edition, which comes with a second “live performance” CD. The live CD carries the identical set list as the studio version, and the balance of Ochi’s vocal performance with the live band and audience is perfect. Recommendation: pick up the special edition if you can — the live version mix is just so much better.
Title track “Force” is a real hurricane of a rock track, matching the energy of 2009’s J-Drama theme “Alright!” (from Yuki Amami’s Boss series). “Nitty Gritty” and “No Bandage” immediately follow, adding some great guitar riffs courtesy of Ochi’s partner in crime Koichi Tabo.
Ballads like “”Kagayaku Tsuki no You ni” and “The Bird Without Wings” are real treasures, and “Syuuen” (trans. “Demise”) is beautiful and amazing with its simple piano and guitar. God help you if they put this at the end of a drama — 100% chance of tears.
“Ai o Kurae,” the jazz-funk “Heisei Homo Sapiens,” “919”, and “Get High!! -Adrenaline-” feel like jam session numbers, a bit more fun for the musicians than the audience. By contrast, the live version of “Get High!!” is totally fun on the bonus CD, and “919” is another track that just kills in the live version. Credit for that goes to a solid backing band and a really sharp sound engineer.
Superfly doesn’t need to prove anything. There’s a lot of power packed into this album, and Force’s recent Oricon achievement (the band’s fifth album to debut at #1) is well-deserved. Just like Ochi’s magnificient shotgun voice, Force is an album that can’t be ignored.
Recommended tracks: Force, Nitty Gritty, Kagayaku Tsuki no You ni, Syuuen