Review Summary: One of Mr. Children's most important releases to date.
If you know your Japanese music history, you should know of Mr. Children. The second best selling band of all-time in Japanese music history, and pushing over 50 million copies (and growing), Mr. Children have a unique sound to them, which blends extremely soft ballads that focus almost entirely on melodies, with a spin that, once in a while, can throw any casual listener off. It's that very unpredictability that makes Mr. Children still an extremely good listen. When they released "Bolero" back in 1997, it was arguably one of their most significant releases to date (along with "Atomic Heart", of course).
The album kicks off with the opener, "Everything (It's You)", which is exactly what it sounds like. A ballad so emotional that, at times, can be quite embarrassing to listen to. However, with superb musicianship and professionally executed vocals from critically acclaimed frontman, Kazutoshi Sakurai, the track ends up sounding not too bad. Actually, after a few listens, pretty damn good. The next track, "Time Machine ni Notti", is one of the best tracks on the album, fronted by a nice alternative crunch, tinged with 90's appeal. "Brandnew My Lover" shows the band further distancing themselves from the poppy "Everything" track, into a much more alternative sound, but with the pop lyrics still heavily intact. "Es -Theme of Es-" is one of the most solid pieces they've wrote in their careers thus far, and carries a nice pop-meets-progressive rock kinda feel. The melodies are enough to hypnotize any casual listener, but one can also appreciate the band's performance, as they make sure to have the song poppy, but nothing too shameless.
"Seesaw Game" is a bit of a bore compared to the previous tracks, but nothing as mediocre as "Everything". The track actually comes with a chorus, which is a nice touch in the album. "Kasa no ***a no Kimi ni Tsugu" picks things up a little, but still has a lot to prove at this stage. "Alive" helps bring the album back to that potential, with hypnotic melodies, and drowned vocals by Kazutoshi. A superb track that really shows the skill of vocalist Kazutoshi Sakurai, with little focus on the actual band. A damn good track in itself, however. "Shiawase no Category" brings the band back in, and is a typical sunny track from the poppy group. "Everybody Goes" breaks the pop mold once more, with a driving sound, topped by angsty vocals by Kazutoshi. The next track, "Bolero", which is a downtempo type of track that shows a bit of a trip-hop influence, has a spaced out sound that one can vibe to for hours on end, before closing with an iffy remix of "Tomorrow Never Knows". But then again, with a Mr. Children classic such as "TNK", it's pretty much impossible to remix satisfyingly.
Although it's not their greatest material, it's still a highly influential and great album. An album that requires a bit of growing on the listener, but that goes with Mr. Children's catalog as a whole. All-in-all, a solid effort from one of Japan's greats.