Review Summary: Buck-Tick's sophomore album is a fine collection of songs that shouldn't be passed up on by fans, even though it isn't as experimental as their more recent releases.
For those familiar with the world of Japanese music, there is perhaps no band as quite infamous as Buck-Tick. Formed in 1983 by now legendary guitarist and songwriter Hisashi Imai, Buck Tick quickly came to prominence in the music scene of Japan after the release of the underground hit album, ‘Hurry Up Mode’, which quickly established the band as a powerful force in the world of the soon-to-be-established Japanese music subgenre of ‘visual kei’. Now boasting an incredible catalogue of 21 albums (and counting), Buck-Tick is showing no signs of ceasing their reign over Japanese rock. Many of Buck-Ticks albums are known for crossing over the genre-barrier and creating a sound that is entirely unique. While albums such as ‘Kurutta Taiyou’ and the aforementioned ‘Hurry Up Mode’ have a reputation of representing important milestones in the bands discography, ‘SEXUAL xxxxx’ should be seen as an important stepping stone for the band that would lead the pathway for the plethora of classic music the band has since released.
To put it bluntly, ‘SEXUAL xxxxx!’ does everything ‘Hurry Up Mode’ did, but it does it better. Much better. I say this as a person who rather enjoyed the ‘positive-punk’ vibes that ‘Hurry Up Mode’ pleasantly laid upon its listeners. While still being a great album in retrospect, ‘Hurry Up Mode’ has its shortcomings, namely some odd production choices, and an overall sense that the band wasn’t quite reaching their full potential as artists. Their sophomore album is by no means a game changer, as ‘SEXUAL xxxxx!’ doesn’t ever display the bands full talent, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this album is full of memorable tracks worth checking out.
An early highlight is the track “DO THE ‘I LOVE YOU’”, which boasts one of the bands most infectious hooks, and will likely stay in the head of the listener for quite a long time after they stop tuning in. Another Noteworthy song worth mentioning is the title track. You know a song is rather good when Buck Tick still performs it 30 years after its release. Perhaps this tracks only real shortcomings are the lyrics, which are, to no surprise, not exactly the most tasteful (and are surprisingly written by Sakurai).
Speaking of which, the lyrics on this album are particularly… questionable. While I was reading translations for these tracks, I was wondering why they were so nonsensical… until it hit me. Almost all of the lyrics were written by Hisashi Imai himself. Usually, one of the strongest elements in Buck-Ticks music are the lyrics. Usually penned by vocalist Atsushi Sakurai, lyrics on Buck-Tick albums often utilize a wide vocabulary and Sakurai’s affinity for allusions to create a flavourful cocktail of words. Conversely, Hisashi Imai’s lyrics are usually hit or miss, and usually contain very similar >ahem< topics. That doesn’t mean all the lyrics are BAD on this album, it just means, like I said, they are either hit… or miss… mostly miss. This album displays both band members at perhaps their weakest (lyrically), as the lyrics seem to have taken second place next to the instrumental aspects, which isn’t much of an issue to English speaking listeners, but to those who speak Japanese, don’t expect lyrical mastery like on Buck-Ticks most recent affairs.
Finally, In terms of instrumentation, this album is a usual affair for Buck Tick. U-ta’s basslines are as catchy as ever, Toll’s drumming still puts complementing the music over complex fills, the guitar work is distinct and catchy, and Sakurai’s vocals are great (although, not as great as they would become a few years later). Overall, If you are like me and wrote this album off before even checking it out, you owe it to yourself to give this album a listen. You are sure to find something you will enjoy, just don't expect another ‘Darker Than Darkness -style 93-‘.
DO THE I LOVE YOU
FUTURE FOR FUTURE