Lindberg XX

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Lindberg are J-rock veterans -- XX is the album's number in their discography -- and they have acquired certain traits shared by most Japanese bands that have survived this long on the top. Their music doesn't really sound very fresh stylistically, and is somehow elusive -- it's speedy upbeat rock with a female vocalist, energetic guitars recalling Def Leppard with a bit of quality punk mixed in, but it's hard to say anything else beyond that: some solos and riffs are straight out of the ‘80s, and there's really a hint of punk-pop, but they don't really resemble the likes of Offspring, they aren't as rowdy as the Def Lep, and don't sound retro -- they're just not that hip. This doesn't matter much, though, because another core trait of Lindberg is that, 20 years into their career, they still write damn catchy songs: simple but not primitive, based on classic riffs but not sounding derivative, and just all-around fun in a sunny and melodic, "let's rock!" way. The album is long, and so after a while the effect wears down a bit, because Lindberg aren't the ones for stylistic experiments, but the one thing they do, they do very well -- in fact, better than a good deal of their own followers, who picked up the idea about mixing various styles to make J-rock, but take it too seriously and end up losing the hooks. All too many Japanese bands of the 2000s aiming for the Oricon charts have an elaborate sound with dense arrangements, but nothing that would stick out and demand a second listen; XX, on the other hand, does its thing naturally, and its infectious drive makes additional spins hard to resist.