Review Summary: At times, a slightly underwhelming, but wholly satisfying foray into one of Japan's most enjoyable acts.
Asian Kung-Fu Generation, or AKFG, were formed in 1996 in Yokohama, Japan. The band has maintained the same line-up since then, and have been relatively successful both critically and commercially. "World World World" is the bands fourth album.
"World World World" topped the Oricon Charts (similar to the American Billboard Chart) quickly after it's release. Up until this album, the band had a regular release schedule, with a new album out almost every year. However, the concept and recording for "World World World" was almost two years. This is a strange fact, because "World World World" does nothing to set itself apart from the rest of their discography. To be quite honest, AKFG haven't really progressed at all. But what they do release is some of the most catchy and enjoyable stuff coming out of Japan.
To describe a sound for AKFG is rather difficult. Throw any pre-conceived notions out the window, because they really don't sound like most "j-rock" bands. Well, aside from the fact it's all sang in Japanese. But the warbling, uber-vibrato vocals prevalent in a lot of Japanese music isn't there. Instead, AKFG's vocalist Masafumi Gotō has a very adequate and easily listenable voice. Not spectacular, but he sings in a very straight forward style that matches the overall sound very well. The rest of the band does a nice job, but honestly doesn't push the envelope. I'm sure they are each great with their respective instrument, but they never even tried to do so. Repetitious chords are prevalent, as are overly simplistic drum beats. Together it all sounds fine, but when you begin to pick it all apart, it becomes more and more evident that the substance isn't all there. AKFG are undeniably a rock band. In their home nation they are seen as "indie," but rock is probably a more suitable label to Western listeners.
Aside from all the mediocrity I'm making this out to be, AKFG are still a very good band, and "World World World" displays that very well. Each song fits well in the grand scheme of things, making the album very cohesive. While not every song is a hit, there are some real standouts. "After Dark," "Leica," and "Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu" are each great songs. The rest is a mixed bag, ranging from great to underwhelming.
"World World World" is an enjoyable album. It's disappointing to see AKFG try so very little to progress, but that's just fine. I don't get the feeling the band is out to set the world on fire. As long as they keep releasing catchy, fun music, there will always be an audience.
+ Solid Production
+ Catchy, fun, and accessible
+ Not an inherently bad song on the record
- Little to no progression since their last album
- Instrumentation is very uninteresting