Art-School

Love/Hate

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

Bending stylistic conventions of post-grunge, pop-punk, and melodic industrial, Art-School are one of the best J-rock bands of the 2000s, hands down, and that's some achievement, considering that the Japanese music industry of that decade was second only to the American one. Love/Hate is a fresh and accomplished album that excels in the typical Japanese game of piecing together the musical influences in a tantalizingly familiar but unrecognizable way. The band is anything but shy with guitar work, and the crunchy riffs smack of Filter, but that's only one side of their sound, because the streamlined songs also have a slight punkish undercurrent, and besides, Art-School are keen on quiet tension buildups that resolve in all-out, larger than life choruses. "Shitoyakana Kemono" even gives an idea of how early Radiohead might've sounded if they'd gone the post-grunge way. However, the best thing about Love/Hate is the extreme tightness of songwriting. Granted, the band sacrifices diversity, giving the songs the same tempo and the same mood, as well as avoiding the uber-catchiness that pop-oriented alt rock acts often sport (think Snow Patrol), but there's not a moment on Love/Hate that drags. Every riff, texture, and rhythm pattern is placed and locked with the rest with professional ease, although they never sound calculated; on the contrary, the album is a wild and emotionally moving ride that could've rivaled emo were it not notably free from angst, which is traded for a positive, powerful, and somewhat romantic vibe. Love/Hate has no stand-out singles; it sounds like a sole stand-out single from start to finish.

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