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Remioromen achieved commercial success before Kazenokuroma, but with this release they finally hit the songwriting nail square on the head. They used to be nice but overly reserved, and while they couldn't conceal their ability to write a captivating tune, they never dared to really demand attention with their music, opting for some polite Muzak instead. This album still stays within the confines of soundtrack-friendly power pop, but now the band has figured out how to sound not only melodic, but energetic as well. There's not much going on Kazenokuroma stylistically -- it's the same sunny and positive guitar music that can be traced back to '80s pop/rock, but it's not just '80s pop anymore, belonging to the same rock strata as B'z or Ikimono Gakari. However, the main point here is the quality of songs, and in this department Remioromen have firmly established themselves on the same level with the big boys of J-rock, such as Spitz and the aforementioned B'z, who became big boys when they developed the remarkable ability to churn out compositions of the same type over the course of each album without ever sounding trite -- which is exactly what Remioromen do on Kazenokuroma. Every track is catchy -- in fact, very catchy and moving, still in a non-obtrusive Japanese way, but different from past Remioromen efforts. The song arrangements are chock-full of smart work with strings, pianos, rhythms, and guitar textures -- nothing to distract the listener, but enough to expand the musical dimensions of the songs considerably. Sure, the music does sound like a quotation sometimes, and the album would benefit from some editing -- with such little variation it hardly needs to be 75 minutes long -- but it's still nice to hear how the band matured.

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