Why I Didn't Enjoy ONE OK ROCK's Ambitions
I skipped through the entire album. Probably a misjudgment on my part as a reviewer but hey, it's how I reacted to this supposedly solid album with sure hits. I was not impressed with the Ambitions declared by ONE OK ROCK. The whole album was chiseled and sheened to be a shiny pop rock album. And that was the whole problem. It felt so manufactured and calculated. So out of touch of what I want. So in touch with what I should have expected.
The first and only example, I present I Was King. All the right melodies, lyrics, timing and production. A complete epic melody that carries hints of 35xxxv. This song makes you feel pumped; it has the air of an epic rock ballad. In spite of all the predicted enjoyment, I found myself desiring something different. Something of a different flair.
The entire album felt like that. Even if I present 13 examples, I still end up with the same reaction. Songs became boring fast and so I pressed next. One factory-made track after another. Each made me crave for something else. In fact, after attempting Ambitions multiple times, I winded up listening to "old" classics like Zeitakubyo. (Can you believe that album came out a decade ago?!)
It's evident they've grown a lot. Production wise, playing wise, image wise, sound wise. Their audience has grown, so has their ambitions so to say. I face problems with Japanese artists trying to reach out to the Western world because sometimes I feel they change too much. By adapting their sound to a group who's never heard of them before, they are potentially risking their core base. Fans who love them for their incredibly unique Japanese sound, not a western-catered one. However, if an artist wants to experiment and improve their successes, if this is what they want, then who am I to say differently. Nostalgia and ignorance can blind a fan. I can only wish them the best and all the success.
In OOR's case, their sound has been increasingly fuzzy with western pop punk, so the lines have blurred. The evidence is there. This pop radio accessible rock style reaches more listeners. OOR has built one of the largest international fanbases I've seen in a modern Jrock band. Thanks to their expressive image, their catchy tunes, and their decision to sing in both Japanese and English. Kuudos to Taka for his improvement. You can really tell how far he's come and this dedication isn't easy, especially when it's not your native language. All in all, I can see why they have headed for this musical style and why they will continue it.
Their early days developed a solid foundation but their castle would have never grown as fast and big as it did without shifting and making strategic music choices. Ambitions is proof of such. It is a "safe" album to satisfy their international fanbase. OOR will continue this streak and move towards greater things, bigger ambitions. They're out to conquer the world, changing and adapting and evolving. Long gone are the days of Zeitakubyo and Beam of Light. It's a new age and it doesn't seem like I'll be a part of it.