Asian Kung-Fu Generation

Fan Club

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Asian Kung-Fu Generation may very well be the best modern rock band to come out of Japan in the late 2000s, and certainly the most balanced one. In a scene that is split between a legion of bands that faithfully trudge the conventional paths of Anglo-American rock and a bunch of experimenters, from Acid Mothers Temple to Zazen Boys, who sound unique but are often unlistenable, it's nice and refreshing to see a group that can combine the best of both approaches. Granted, Asian Kung-Fu Generation still wear their influences on their sleeves: the members cite Radiohead and Oasis as favorite bands, but those that should be mentioned first are Weezer, American pop-punkers, and maybe Teenage Fanclub, with pop-punk lending AKFG the tempo and Weezer the melodocism and even some of those classic "woo-hoos." What's entirely their own, though, is the sheer quality of songwriting. The group expands the traditional verse-chorus scheme, adding the typical indie rock flow to song structure. Not a single instrument is kept lazy or just following the main theme of the song like it's often done by lesser bands, and the result is a dynamic collection of riffs, melodies, and textures that don't sound like anyone else's and are done without a single weak link. This is definitely their most realized album yet. The word "dynamic" is somewhat relative, because the songs do sound similar, mainly because of the single tempo employed throughout, but with songwriting this good, this is only minor complaint, especially since the album doesn't overstay its welcome. Also, the overseas listeners are bound to extend their Japanese vocabulary by at least two words -- "plasma TV," or rather "purasma teevee," as Masafumi Gotou clearly pronounces in "Blackout" -- although those who would care to investigate more would be the better off for it. But still, the lyrics are just icing on the cake here, because regardless of the language barrier, Fan Club is one very strong rock record.

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