“After Images of Summer” (夏の日、残像, Natsu no Hi, Zanzō) from Connected to You 5m
A 90’s-style post-punk blankets a song about lost love; a distant summer, what was left after the season’s end, and a tireless pursuit to keep searching for what was lost. Or… something like that. That’s the problem with interpreting contextual languages. However, I can piece together that much from the various translations online. The lyrical melody is both melodic and aggressive, and has that uniquely-Ajikan catchiness that makes it a loveable track.
“A New World” (新しい世界 Atarashii Sekai) from World World World
“Music can change the world” is a very common theme in pop going back to its earliest days. “Atarashii Sekai” is a sarcastic effort about passing the time away and losing yourself in music, casting aside the worries of the day. In doing so, you drift away to “a new world”. The song’s backbeat rhythm, warm melody and belting chorus are a rallying cry for the disenfranchised. As someone who plays guitar, the images of strumming the A chord to pass the time is quite relatable.
“Blue Train” (ブルートレイン Burū Torein) from Fanclub
Imagery of never being able to move beyond the moment is the theme of “Blue Train”. “The destination of the streaking blue is the present” is not entirely difficult to understand given the cultural context. The significance of trains in modern urbana and the prevalence of self-destructive behavior (suicide in-particular) in Japan create a grimly-vivid image of what is going through the head of the subject of the song. Desperation, hopelessness, and no cares for others in the moment, or even the near future. It is one of their more musically-technical songs, with syncopated drums, quick breakdowns, fast arpeggios and a varying lyrical melody that doesn’t refrain in quite the same way a typical pop song would. “Blue Train” is one of Ajikan’s more ambitions recordings.
“Goodbye Lost Generation” (さよならロストジェネレイション Sayonara Rosuto Jenerēshon) from Magic Disk
Things were not looking good for the global economy in 2010, and “Sayonara Lost Generation” is an attempt at being somewhat inspirational in a time where it things were looking more and more dire. Returning to a slight anti-authoritarianism, Ajikan lashes out against a broken globalist system that failed not just the youth in Japan but the youth of the world. It is a theme that still resonates today. The moody alternative melody fits with theme which, as mentioned, is something AKFG is quite good at; contrasting a poppy musical tone with serious subjects.
“Winner and Loser” from Wonder Future
Singing about the greed of those in power, “Winner and Loser” is a particularly bitter tune. The chorus is fantastic, though. It’s upbeat and bouncing and like much of Wonder Future, it brings the sound back to the band’s earlier, edgier days.
“Bitter Orange” (橙 Daidai) from Magic Disk
The daidai is a very traditional ingredient in Japanese food, and the imagery in “Bitter Orange” is distinctly cultural, which is why it would require a little context. Themes of death permeate the track with many references to rainbows, which are a mythological link to the ancestors of one’s family. My hypothesis is the song is meant to be about the ongoing death and rebirth of tradition in Japan, “Daidai” is a great track that is both upbeat and emotional, with the offkey shift at the end of the first half of the chorus sounding somewhat odd at first, but it is this one chord that makes this song one of Ajikan’s best.
“Radio Tower”(電波塔, Denpatō) from Connected to You 5m
About reminiscing on a near-forgotten moment in the singer’s youth that is only slightly described, “Radio Tower” is a charming post-punk anthem from Ajikan’s first studio album. It has that AKFG beat and a very-western-sounding lyrical melody compared to much of the songs on this album. It’s accessible, bright and is one of the best rock songs of the 2000’s.
“Signal on the Street” from Wonder Future
Another tune for 2015’s Wonder Future that sounds a lot like the older AKFG before World World World, “Signal on the Street’s” lyrics are kind of difficult to decipher. Images of streetlights and alleys theme at bright, fast chorus that really doesn’t kick in until about halfway through the song. The first few minutes of “Signal on the Streets” are build up to one of the best choruses of any rock song in the past 5 years.
“No. 9” from World World World
If “Signal on the Street’s” lyrics leave questions, “No. 9” offers little room for interpretation. Critical of war, relentless attacks from major nations, images of explosions, bombings… Put that under a track that is so cheery that if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was about falling in love. “No. 9” is catchy as Hell, though. It’s “doo-doo-doo-dooo-doo” refrain and distorted sliding guitars leading up to a minor-key, shouted chorus. It’s one of their best power anthems by far.
“E” from Connected to You 5m
“E” is difficult to really interpret lyrically, but it is an excellent song nonetheless. A fun, energetic chorus leads into a near-screaming shout of “Hirogariyuku mirai he!”. The breakdown is excellent with a bridge driving right into a brick wall of distant, heavily-distorted strumming. So, with that we send a hearty “sayonara” to Ajikan’s first album as we head into the top half of my list of favorite AKFG songs!