LOVE & HONESTY is the third album released by BoA. The album was another hit for the young singer as it peaked at #1. It only sold half of what her last album sold though with 650,000 copies. The four singles were moderately successful this time around with all, except the re-cut single, reaching the top five, although the sales were considerably lower.
Released: January 15, 2004
1. Rock With You
2. Shine We Are!
3. SOME DAY ONE DAY
4. LOVE & HONESTY
5. Midnight Parade
6. Be the one
8. OVER ~across the time~
9. Kokoro no Tegami (心の手紙; My Heart’s Letter)
11. Easy to be Hard
12. Song With No Name ~Namae no Nai Uta~ (～名前のない歌～; Song With No Name)
13. Milky Way ~Kimi no Uta~ (Bonus Track) (～君の歌～; Your Song)
Opening on a strong note, the album starts with Rock With You. The album’s third single, it does what its name says, which is add some rock flair into a dance/pop tune. There are some times where I do feel the music could be flushed out a bit more, but it does have punch and the melody works really well here. My favourite part of the song is actually the pre-chorus as it goes a bit more pop before swinging right into the heavy percussion and guitars of the chorus. A fun start! Back in the day, I never liked Shine We Are! Despite being the album’s first single, it was such a departure from BoA’s usual harder hitting dance/pop style with its bubbly sound and sweeter vocal delivery. Nowadays, I really love it. It’s a catchy song and BoA still makes it work. I do wish the music wasn’t so programmed sounding at times, but everything else seems to go nicely with the bright melody. It’s a good predecessor to some similar sounding songs later on. SOME DAY ONE DAY is the album’s first album track and its a change with its more midtempo R&B execution. It also features VERBAL from m-flo. I love that she doesn’t really make it that sexy, but there is some sensuality in the vocal delivery of the verses and her nasally voice really does well here. It’s not the most exciting song, but it has a cooler vibe to it that works nicely with the simple hooks. I like the atmosphere the whole song brings. The title track, LOVE & HONESTY, is one of my favourite songs on the album. It is a midtempo pop song that has a really bright and almost bubblegum arrangement, although the vocal arrangement is definitely more straightforward. It’s not a very flashy song, but I really enjoy how well put-together it seems. The simple beat with the fullness of the synths really work beautifully with the catchy and charming melody of the chorus. It’s great. Midnight Parade sounds like SOME DAY ONE DAY’s upbeat sister. It has a lot more energy and has a funky beat to go along with it. It starts off with a lot of promise and the verses are attitude-filled. The pre-chorus is nice, but it does sort of break the flow of the song and by the chorus, there music just goes a weird route where it doesn’t push hard enough to elevate the song. I think it might have to do with how continuous the arrangement feels. Decent tune, just something missing. I used to LOVE Be the one and though I still do love it, it has sort of lost a bit of its spunk since the old days. It’s probably the most aggressive song on the album since Rock With You, but it does things in a more streamlined dance/pop way. I do enjoy the attitude it brings and I think that’s what really carries the song. The hooks aren’t as strong as some of the other songs and I do feel like the music doesn’t quite fit with the vocal arrangement as it feels a bit messy. With that said, it is still a really solid song and it is no surprise why it was a re-cut single. EXPECT comes rolling in and sort of feels like a continuation of the last song, although it has less attitude and catchier hooks. With that said, I do love this song and it is one of my favourites on the album. The music different and the use of synths really give it a dreamier quality that helps it stand out. It’s a bit more pop, but it still delivers. OVER ~across the time~ heightens with dreamy quality and delivers the strongest song on the album. There is something absolutely stunning about this song with its touches of Spanish guitar and splashes of synths. Each part of the song is so strong, from the gentle verses, to the passionate chorus and memorable hooks. It is like VALENTI’s dreamier sister and it just blows everything else out of the water. Kokoro no Tegami is one of the weaker album tracks on the album track just because it doesn’t push anything and comes off a bit bland. I do like the song and it does have a catchy chorus, but it feels like the kind of song that BoA did before, but weaker. I do wish the arrangement had a bigger punch to it and the melody had some stronger hooks because it sort of comes off a bit forgettable when compared to the last song. The album’s second single, DOUBLE, is an intense dance/pop tune that is sort of in-line with Be the one. I would say this one is even more aggressive and darker. Unfortunately, I think I have the same sort of feeling for this one that I have of that one. It’s catchy and it has some great attitude, but it just lacks the thing that has hooked me on other songs over 14 years later. It feels like the music has a weird disconnect with its consistent beat and flying synths. That’s not to say it is a bad song though but it just needs a little more to push it to the next level for me. Easy To Be Hard is a bright pop song, similar to Shine We Are! This one feels like it takes some inspiration from 90’s pop/R&B and I do like that quality about the music. With that said, there is something off with the melody. I feel like it goes all over the place. It starts off promising, but then adds these weird notes that cut the flow of its catchiness. It’s not terrible, just my least favourite on the album. Song With No Name ~Namae no Nai Uta~ is the album’s only full-fledged ballad tune. I’m actually quite surprised there aren’t more, but I’m glad if it had to be one, it was this one. It’s an absolutely stunning and simple song that relies largely on the guitar and some synths. It’s simplicity and gorgeous melody really make the song and BoA sounds great singing. Her restrained performance really matches the song well. Milky Way ~Kimi no Uta~ surprisingly finds it way on here. Originally showing up on the singer’s third Korean album, this one is a bright and catchy pop song and I love it. It works perfectly on this album. However, for some reason, I feel like the production isn’t as strong as the original version and it loses a bit of the punch the original has. It’s still a solid tune and a great ending tune that leaves the album off on an inspiring note.
Overall: This was the first BoA album I bought and so it is special for me. Maybe because I’ve listened to this album in its entirety for the last 14 year, I’ve found the quirks of many of the songs, but I still believe this is one of BoA’s strongest, if not her strongest Japanese albums. It feels like the whole album has a theme and while it does try different avenues, it has some connection. Every song is solid and there aren’t any terrible songs, just a few weaker ones at the end. It is also one of the few albums where none of the singles rank in my top three songs on the album. The only thing I would change would be to add some more ballads to replace the more forgettable pop songs.