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Action is the 16th studio album by Asia's biggest rock band, and this amounts to saying that it's a style-less mastodon of a record that is chock-full of nice catchy tunes. This may sound like a contradiction, but that's how all the prime J-rock bands go about their music: groups like B'z, Glay, and Mr. Children have perfected the way to write commonplace, something-for-everyone rock songs that can't be described in terms other than "fast," "loud," or "soft." In this case, Mr. Children are soft, and B'z and Glay are fast and rocking -- kind of. If anything, Action can be pegged as power pop in the bluntest sense of the word: the guitars, which carry the songs, are big enough, but this is also undoubtedly pop music. The music has similarities to lighter Def Leppard, as the aptly named opening track suggests, but the Lepps never tried to get away with one type of sound and mood for a whole album, and besides, this comparison loses some of the other influences, such as the easygoing retro rock swagger of "One on One" or the brass and vintage keys of "Nanto Iu Shiawase." However, picking out the influences can only be done as a conscious effort, because Action really sounds like a single hour-plus track. But this should not be held against B'z, because, while there's as much variety here as in any AC/DC album, there's not a single weak song, either. Typically for Japanese music, more care is placed on harmonies than hooks, but, while these tracks won't force the listener to hum them all day ("Isshinfuran" being one exception), their upbeat and positive mood will linger for a while. Those who prefer their music to push the envelope and have a clear face will probably still be dissatisfied with Action, but if "groovy and predictable" sounds like the right thing, this album is sure worth a try.

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