LOVE PiECE was Ai Otsuka’s 4th studio album. It was released on September 26, 2007 and reached number 1 on the charts with 208,031 copies sold. In Japan it has sold more than 373,382+ copies, but according to Avex, it has sold over 550,000+ copies. The cover featured six different shots of Ai hence the name LOVE PiECE, in addition to that there was also a photo booklet released featuring her in six different backgrounds. This was also the first album to feature more than three singles. And none of the single’s B-Sides were featured on this album.
1. Mirai Taxi
3. Mackerel’s canned food
6. Hoshi no Tango
11. Ren’ai Shashin
Kicking off the album is the impressive Mirai Taxi lit. Future Taxi. The beginning, which really hooked me, featured the soft guitar riffs followed by some synth lines, which really set the tone. Ai’s vocals sounded adorable as usual, and at the same time pretty strong; even her English was good. The beats were awesome and meshed perfectly with Ai’s vocals and the music. Although what made the song hands down was the melody. It’s extremely infectious and sounds riveting. It’s what made the chorus so memorable, that and the rock-synth sound. This is going to be one of Ai’s signature songs in the future.
The next song is the pop-rock Yumekui lit. Dream Eater. This song was originally released as a single prior to the album, and it’s a darn good one too. Despite the powerful and even roaring music, Ai’s vocals still remain sweet, laid-back, and deep. The only problem with that though was hearing it all, but Ai did a great job still. The roaring instrumentals, namely the guitar, were incredible and pretty good. The chorus was insanely catchy, thanks to a great melody no doubt. It’s a wonderful addition to the album!
The second new song on the album is the oddly named Mackerel’s canned food. This song is pretty rock oriented, and begins like PEACH with the percussion and guitars, making one hell of a combination. The song moves quickly enough and it’s easy to get lost in it all, it’s actually good and catchy. Ai’s vocals were a little deeper than before, but overall just as cute and adorable as ever. The lyrics were mostly Japanese, but the little English was great, as well as the ad-libbing. The chorus was pretty catchy, I guess what made it stick was Ai’s vocals and perhaps the guitar. It’s a little funny but overall it’s amazing.
Another one of Ai’s effervescent rock songs appears, this time it’s PEACH. It was released alongside HEART as the final single of the era. It reached no. 1 on the charts and it’s no surprise why. This song is perfect for the summer and features an array of rock instrumentals, like the guitar, percussion, and even tambourine. The claps were great, especially during the chorus. And as for the chorus, well it was explosive. A sizzling summer song!
The third of the five new songs on the album is Kumuriuta lit. Cloudy Song. This song was used to promote the album and even had a PV made for it. This song is soft and more of a ballad than anything else. The lyrics are sweet and seem very innocent. The song sounded good, but it didn’t get really good until the second half. However, once it hit the second half, things got much better. Her vocals were filled with some emotion and backed by her strength. The piano, strings, and percussion worked together to make an astounding instrumental. One of the most memorable songs on the album.
Hoshi no Tango lit. Star’s Tango, the fourth of five new songs. This song begins pretty quickly and seems somewhat fast-paced in the music. The song is driven by the piano, a harmonica and an acoustic guitar; and they all play in complete harmony. Although honestly I couldn’t really get into this song. It was too acoustic oriented, and a little too slow for my taste, but good nonetheless. I think what this song is lacking is just some variety.
Ai has done it again, Katorisenkou lit. Anti-Mosquito Incense, is still one of the strangest titles I’ve heard. This was also the final of the five new songs on the album. It begins with a mosquito buzzing sound but then turns into a quick rock paced song. Out of all the new songs on the album, it’s the most aggressive. It’s also one of the fastest songs, and the strangest. The vocals sounded a little aggressive and distorted, and the background vocals just sounded like screams. It’s by far the weirdest rock songs that she’s done to date, not to mention just pain strange and short.
Frienger, aka. the rock oriented song. This song was the first song to be released as a single and thus began the LOVE PiECE Era. Besides it being rock it has a pop feel to it. It’s pretty up-beat and has a great chorus that’s catchy. The guitars and percussion sounded great together, very impressive. And as usual, Ai was singing in her cute vocals. This song isn’t half bad.
Making its appearance is CHU-LIP, the up-beat brass rock tune. It’s a fusion of rock and jazz essentially with the guitar and brass, which makes for a unique combination. I personally don’t think that this song was all that catchy, but that’s my opinion. It’s a little edgy but at least Ai sounded great. I just wish that it was a little brighter and more happy.
HEART, the second double A-Side. This song was released along side PEACH for her 5th single of this era, and the only double A-Side single on this album. This song is so sweet and sounds so laid-back. It’s more of an innocent pop tune filled with love and happiness. It’s my favorite song of all her singles. The chorus here is really great and so catchy. It even had a PV to go with it, although it was only placed on the album.
Ending the album is the lovely Ren’ai Sashin lit. Love Photograph. This song outshines all others, mostly because it’s the only ballad on the album for the most part, except for HEART. The music is very beautiful and classical for the most part. I mean the strings and piano were really lovely and just a pleasure to listen to. And for once Ai didn’t use her sweet vocals, this time it was more mature, more powerful voice. And I loved how as it progressed it got better. I’m sure that this will remain one of her greatest and most memorable songs for a long time.
Overall Review: LOVE PiECE was such a fantastic album. I think that this is my favorite album from Ai. I loved all of the singles from this era, so that made the album good. And the fact that all the new songs on the album were pretty good also helped. I think that Ai needs to do some more albums like this. The one problem that I did have with it was that this album had no B-Sides from any of the singles that were released in this era. But all the songs were good so that made up for it. Overall this is her best work in years.
Final Grade: 100A+