Review Summary: Gackt plays to his strengths in his follow up to two Jpop/rock milestones.
No matter what Gackt’s next step after his phenomenal art rock/pop debut Mars, it was going to be a surprise. It could have been just as good as Mars, significantly worse than Mars (ergo far too sure of itself), he could have played it safe or he could have pushed his sound further and experimented. He also could have released an hour of heavily amplified field recordings of garden snails moving across vegetables, though more to the point, all of the above directions (sans the part about the snails) are possible answers to how an artist, especially a solo superstar like Gackt, goes about following up a highly acclaimed release and it’s near impossible to see which one it will be until it comes out.
Even after several listens of Rebirth, I’m still not one hundred percent sure which category it fits under since all of those things (again and for the last time, sans the snails) could be said about the material present on it. Rebirth steps up the game in places, but then dials it down but then further down the track Gackt pushes his own boundaries. However, at the end of the day, all of these things combine to make an album that although doesn’t stand much of a chance against its predecessor, is still excellent in its own right.
Unfortunately, as would be the case for the rest of his discography, Gackt does a lot of playing safe on Rebirth. A heavier emphasis on guitar is present throughout the album and while this does insight some excess power out of the tracks, some of the three-dimensionality of Gackt’s previous efforts are lost in the process. Some of the songs end up sounding too much in the vein of each other, particularly the more rock oriented tracks like “uncontrol
” and “Kalmia
” rely heavily on pop-rock grooves in the verses and lack memorability, a key strength listeners are used to in Gackt’s song writing. There are a lot of moments on Rebirth that just simply could have been stronger, “Sayonara
” for example has all these beautiful movements, particularly with the violin, that just feel like they could have amalgamated into something a little more stunning.
Fortunately, most of Gackt’s prior flair comes out on Rebirth in bright neon colours. Gackt’s pop sensibilities are strong in the song “marmalade
”, the kind of thing he would go on to beat like a dead horse on future endeavours, “marmalade
” indulges the listener in a wash of crunchy guitars, blissful synths and tremendous pop hooks. While the emphasis on guitar based tracks works as a weakness occasionally on Rebirth as previously mentioned, there are songs like “Papa lapped a pap lopped
” where Gackt excels as if to prove a point “yes, I can make my weaknesses work to my strengths as well, there’s something for everyone in my music.” Gackt continues to strike at heart strings with moments like the powerful moment the chorus first hits on “Sekirei
” or the resonating atmosphere of seven
” which also boasts a head-spinning guitar solo.
Despite what I said earlier, there are a lot of memorable songs on Rebirth, though there are also some pretty forgettable ones as well. Closer “Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto
” is one of the strongest songs in Gackt’s repertoire along with aforementioned “Sekirei
” and “Papa lapped a pap lopped
”, certainly not to rule out the majority of the rest of the album. Though with a slightly less dazzling result, Gackt still shows that he has an awful lot to give in 49 minutes (again, for whatever reason, Rebirth clocks in at 49 minutes to the second unless you have one of those CD players that chucks on an extra two seconds). Though calling it Mars 2.0 would be cruelly unjust, Rebirth is still a very strong album with some seriously catchy tunes and more than enough replay value from an incredibly gifted entertainer that’s well worth its weight in Gackt.