Acidman

Life

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

It may very well be that this album's title is meant as a hint to the record's attempted versatility. On Life, Acidman indeed travel a lot between moods and tempos, to say nothing of the stylistic variations: an ambient intro gets a post-rock climax before the band kicks off with their main trick -- some Red Bull-fueled alternative pop rockers with a speedy quasi-punk guitar. Songs like "Stromatolite" are definitely of the toe-tapping variety, and thankfully free of the visual kei pretentiousness -- they just pack some deceptively raw sounding riffs instead. However, around the middle of the album they get exchanged for a jazzy instrumental, some distortion-free pop, and a couple of slower songs of the type that replaced ballads after glam rock died out, again with a slight post-rock feel ("Unfold"). Every song is top-notch, and Life is diverse without really falling apart, thanks largely to the voice of Oki Nobuo -- he's not out there to compete with pro crooners like Gackt, and neither is he really a boy next door type of singer, but the crossover of the two approaches results in an identity (not to be confused with uniqueness any time soon). However, the effect of this album depends on one's experience with J-rock: to the uninitiated it may sound like a dynamic record, but familiarity with the style would prove that the band is following the bigger guys: there's a Tokyo Jihen moment, a Monkey Majik moment, a U2 moment, a number of Asian Kung-Fu Generation moments (especially neat ones, by and large). Life sounds like a half-a-dozen takes of the same band recording an album, and while each of those is nice in its own right, the band still has some identity sorting out to do -- or simply needs a way to make their songs not just great (which they undoubtedly are), but cohesive-sounding as well.

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