Bank Band

Soushi Souai 3

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Fronted by Mr. Children's Sakurai Kazutoshi, the Bank Band have made a small legacy of their Soushi Souai albums, covering tracks from artists they admire or enjoy. The results are mixed. The opening track, Going UnderGround's "Heartbeat," comes off as entirely unexceptional, standard J-pop. RC Succession's "Step," however, provides a completely different palette for Kazutoshi, letting him wail hopelessly (and not pleasingly) for a period. He'll return to this idea a few times in the album, trying to outwail a sax in "Bojou." They move more into singer/songwriter territory with "Ashita no Tame ni Kutsu wo Migakou," and get to go a little deeper (and less problematic musically) with pieces originally from Kazumasa Oda and Nakaido Reichi. Fans of Mr. Children (and the Bank Band project more specifically) should enjoy this -- it's Kazutoshi at his craft, covering some worthwhile songs. But he aesthetic he follows -- a mix of off-key singing common to Japanese pop and voicings imbued with sentimentality, over a canvas of easy rock -- doesn't create a huge amount of musical excitement. There's little new here to hear, in other words.