Shonen Knife Overdrive Album Review
by Joey Farese
Shonen Knife is an all-female indie rock group from Osaka Japan that has been accurately described as the indie queens of sunshine. Fans will be excited to hear that things just got a little bit sunnier as Shonen Knife released their 19th studio album, Overdrive in April through Good Charamel Records.
If you’ve never heard Shonen Knife before, you’re missing out and their newest album is proof of this. It’s hard to describe their sound to the Shonen Knife Virgin; sure, it’s indie rock but it’s also so much more. The trio reminds me of Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath. However, while their music is reminiscent of these 70’s metal icons, there is no doubt that they have made the sound their own. Founding member Naoko sings on eight of the ten tracks on the album while bassist Ritsuko, and drummer Emin sing on the two others. It these unique voices that separate Shonen Knife from the pack. Each member of the trio has a thick Japanese accent, which pairs perfectly with the band’s indie rock style. Their voices are gentle but their style is hard and when the two forces meet beautiful songs are made.
Previous fans of Shonen Knife will be happy to hear that the group has stayed pretty true to their original sound. Yet, the trio has tweaked their approach slightly, as maturing bands often do. Overdrive is slightly more grungy than previous albums. Track five, “Shopping” is a good example of this, as the opening guitar riff grooves its way, and the bass and drums are there to grunge things up right behind it. “Shopping” reminds me of a song Nirvana might have written if only they were girls and also Japanese.
Yet, while the group has progressed their sound slightly, they have stayed true to their roots in many ways. Fans of the group’s previous hit “I Am A Cat” will be pleased to hear that there is another song with hilariously feline undertones on the new album; track seven, “Like A Cat” is near flawless. The song is exactly what you would expect from a group like Shonen Knife. A quirky track that follows the adventures of a cat self-described as “queen of the night.”
The group has found a good balance of hard hitting rock songs with soft undertones throughout. I imagine that there must be a great deal of pressure for girls in the indie rock world to act a certain way but it seems that the girls of Shonen Knife releases songs such as “Like A Cat” that say they simply don’t care what anyone thinks, and in the end is there anything more rock n’ roll than that? I think not.
After hearing Shonen Knife for the first time, they quickly became one of my favorite bands; they’re just so easy to enjoy. I simply cannot start one of their albums without finishing it in the same sitting and for no album is this more true than it is for Overdrive. You will feel a lot of emotions after listening to their newest album but most importantly you will feel satisfied. Make sure to pick up the new album as soon as possible and be on the lookout for their North American tour this Fall. Shonen Knife’s Overdrive album is a sure win for any music lover.