Ken Yokoyama


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By 2010, punk had become a style that didn't care much for change, and as Ken Yokoyama is one of the most revered adepts of the sound in Japan, it comes as no surprise that his new album has no surprises to offer. This is pure, distilled punk, which is everything most people need to know about the album -- there are no stylistic detours here, and the novelty factor is zero, so everyone but style aficionados need only to check whether they own a single CD by Bad Religion, and get one first in case they don't. But seasoned punk lovers will want to know whether Yokoyama botched the job, and the answer is no, of course he didn't, although it's not necessarily the best thing ever recorded with the help of three chords, a distortion pedal, and a lot of hoarse shouting. Yokoyama never was the one for hooks, and he doesn't try to pass for blink-182 here -- he takes a step in this direction sometimes, as on the intro to "Lost You," but generally Four is a raw and primitive slab of rock, not as vicious as the Sex Pistols may have intended, but certainly primeval enough to be confused for a force of nature by less enlightened minds. Its power is somewhat limited, because the record is neither fast nor heavy enough -- it has some speedy moments and sub-metallic riffs, but could use more of both. Besides, it feels like Yokoyama abuses the drum attack at times to mask some uninventive guitar lines. But Four also has a fair share of nice textures, bass runs, cheerful expletive-dropping, and all-around dirty fun stuff to make it worth the money.

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