Review Summary: With "Fanclub," we find Asian Kung-Fu Generation at their most thoughtful as well as accessible.
Asian Kung-Fu Generation (AKFG from here on out) hail from Yokohama, Japan. Formed in 1996, AKFG really hit popularity in the past decade. Arising from Japan's indie scene, the band has since become one of the biggest acts in their home nation. They consistently release albums and EP's, often twice in the same year. With a large fan base and with their popularity still on the rise, AKFG are a real force in the Japanese music scene.
AKFG are simply a rock band, with accents of western punk and alt rock. They generally utilize a fast tempo, but on "Fanclub" we find them at their most melodic, often slowing down their usual fast pace. This experiment on their sound really pays of with great songs like "Waltz in Code" and "Moonlight." The latter of which features a great Claude Debussy segment in piano. It's little accents like that which really add to the overall quality of "Fanclub." Said accents are also what make "Fanclub" the success that it is. Other releases have failed to capture the feeling this album does, and it's really great to see the band putting a little more emotion into their music. With "Fanclub" AKFG have taken a step away from their fun "summer band" persona, and made something a tad more personal.
The band's sound is fairly straightforward, utilizing guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. This straightforward approach is what makes AKFG so accessible, but it's always been their Achilles heel. For as solid and consistent as the band has been in their career, they do little to step outside the box. The vocalist does a fine job, not remarkable, but has enough variation to keep things interesting. But it's the guitar on "Fanclub" that really makes things interesting. While it may not be groundbreaking, some of the guitar parts are incredibly catchy and very well done.
AKFG have really crafted a solid album with "Fanclub." They add a lot more feeling and emotion to their already established sound. Unfortunately, it gets a little lost in the glut of alternative rock bands. But for those who can look past that will be treated to a wonderfully solid and consistent effort.
Waltz in Code