- “N2” from Landmark
Kicking off this list, we have “N2”, a song that is darker in tone than most of their other songs, especially compared to what you would hear most their more recent albums. For me, Landmark was somewhat of a disappointment, unable to live up to the high standard set by Magic Disk. A few great songs stand out, though. N2, a song about economic destitution, demoralization and anger, it’s a pretty aggressive tune.
- “Planet” (惑星, Wakusei) from World World World
Keeping with Ajikan’s common themes of self-empowerment and anti-authoritarianism, “Planet” calls for everyone to aspire to be more than even you thought you could be. Inspirational as many of their tunes are, Planet is touched by a punk tone that is very “AKFG”. The rhythm changes, sudden shift to off-notes and diving bass lines make this one of their more unique tracks.
- “Understand” (アンダースタンド Andāsutando) from Connected to You 5m
“Understand” is somewhat cryptic. It could be lost in the translation but it seems to be about a person who is wracked by an unbearable grief for something that is not entirely their fault and the message is somewhat of comforting empathy. While I generally like Ajikan’s later stuff a little more, “Understand” is a great modern punk song.
- “World Apart” (ワールドアパート Wārudo Apāto) from Fanclub
For me, 2006’s Fanclub was the first time AKFG’s greatness would shine through, and songs from this album will frequent this list. Having a powerful lyrical melody, there is a force of passion in the vocals that would become a common element in many of AKFG’s more energetic tunes. The driving drums, guitar solo and heavily distorted guitars give this one a louder edge as well.
- “Easter” from Wonder Future
From 2015’s Wonder Future, Easter paints a pretty morbid picture in its lyrics. Images of death, themes of careless abandon, even gore are scribbled throughout the lyrics. This one is a little cryptic and it may be a little lost in translation. There are references to rebirth or resurrection (hence the title), however the rest of the lyrics are more strange than anything else. “Easter” hearkens back to the sound of their first two albums, the sound that made them famous, and is an interesting return from the more dramatic, alternative sound they had embraced in albums leading up to Wonder Future.
- “Bicycle Race” (バイシクルレース Baishikuru Rēsu) from Landmark
Warm, effected guitar, a peaceful sound and a charging lead in an upbeat, almost 90’s-sounding chorus make “Bicycle Race” one of the best tracks on Landmark. Themes of picking up pieces of something broken, a cheeriness highlights an optimism for a happy end. Whether it comes is another question…
- “After Dark” (アフターダーク “Afutā Dāku”) from World World World
The imagery in “After Dark” implies that something really bad has happened. Something that isn’t clearly defined. The lyrics are dichotomous to the upeat song. Anime fans will know this song as one of the openings to the popular series Bleach.
- “Butterfly” (バタフライ Batafurai) from Fanclub
“Butterfly” explores an idea of coming out on the other side of hardship, or just a down period, stronger than before. Showcasing Ajikan’s musicality, this song’s mixing of moods and melodic structures built on a minor key layer well. Especially in the intro leading into the first chorus. The funk-inspired bass mixed with the muted guitar make this another winner from Fanclub.
- “Eternal Sunshine” from Wonder Future
A musically-moving, driving chorus caps a well-structured alt-rock tune in “Eternal Sunshine”. A song about lost love and moving on, it features mixed musical tones with a peaceful guitar riff. These picked, simple-but-melodic riffs are a specialty of Ajikan. In an era where rock riffs are stale and uninspired they try to write structured guitar tunes that carry very well. Gotoh’s shaky vocals are the only thing that keep this one out of the top 20. It’s still a great song.
- “Rewrite” (リライト Riraito) from Sol-Fa
One of AKFG’s most famous song thanks to it being featured as an intro on the hit series Fullmetal Alchemist, “Rewrite” is just a great, kickass song. Utilizing some traditional rock formulas, this song has some distinctly-classic-rock qualities. The simple guitar riffs layer well and tie the heavy, aggressive chorus together.