“Senseless” (センスレス Sensuresu) from Fanclub
It’s rare that a song in Japanese can directly translate to English as well as “Senseless”. The lyrics paint a picture of a world projected to us only through TV screens and signs, never allowing us to feel or see anything for ourselves. The plea “do not delete me” (roughly), implies an existence so indelibly tied to the digital world that its complete removal is the loss of one’s self. This song benefits from one of AKFG’s best guitar riffs in their entire catalog; A bouncing, energetic musical refrain that wraps the song. It doesn’t have the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus structure, so having that riff to tie it together makes the whole feel cohesive. It’s a powerful, relevant message packed in a amazing rock tune.
“All right part2” from Landmark
Another exploration in musical escapism, “All right” is a less-poetic pop song featuring Chatmonchy guitarist and frontwoman Eriko Hashimoto. It isn’t deep, it’s just deadly-catchy! This is a song that will never leave you. If you are prone to madness from having a song stuck in your head for good, you may want to avoid this one! However, if you want a cheery pop song with a rock edge and a great riff, this jam’s for you.
“Standard” from Wonder Future
Ajikan are masters at crafting simple, steady building verses into powerful, moving choruses. “Standard” follows your standard three-chorus structure, telling the story of a young, happy girl who captivated a few people in a fleeting moment with careless singing and when she moved on, nobody remembered her. I do not know exactly what inspired this theme, but the idea that a person so small can impact people, even briefly, then keep going without knowing what, if anything, they left in their wake is an interesting image. The cheery guitars and triumphant chorus of “Standard” make this newer single one of their best.
“Well Then, See You Again Tomorrow” (それでは、また明日 Sore dewa, Mata Ashita) from Landmark
Taking their sound back to their early days, “Sore dewa, Mata Ashita” keeps a classic AKFG sound with a minor key leading into a wordy, upbeat chorus. I’m not entirely sure what this song is about from the lyrics, but it is a great rock song in its own right.
“Loop & Loop” (ループ&ループ Rūpu & Rūpu) from Sol-Fa
An endless cycle of separation, sadness and reassurance, “Loop & Loop” is one of the band’s most successful and well-known singles. Released as an EP not even a year after their debut album, it is one of the first singles that I think really hinted at the sound Ajikan would land on by the time Fanclub would come out two years later. Catchy, flighty and energetic, “Loop & Loop” is a timeless entry in their repertoire.
“Black Out” (ブラックアウト Burakkuauto) from Fanclub
“Black Out” seems to discuss a continuing separation from reality, but this is not made entirely clear by the lyrical translation. The song is elevated by an excellent dual-guitar riff melody that, at least for me, will become more timeless with age. Having the same build-up to an anthemic chorus as a songlike “Standard”, “Black Out” nails it and was really one of the songs from the mid-2000’s that really got me into AKFG.
“Love Song of the New Century” (新世紀のラブソング Shinseiki no Rabu Songu) from Magic Disk
A gripping, emotional music video emphasizing a powerful song about carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders into a new Century, as though we are expected to leave the past behind by some sort of arbitrary demarcation point, “Shinseiki no Rabu Songu” uses shocking imagery to invoke memories of the not-so-distant past. Musically, this is a very technical song. From, the warm, haunting guitar riff that guides the song, to the backbeat rhythm and emphasized bass line, it builds on a heavy theme with a powerful and complex choral structure.
“Tightrope” (タイトロープ Taito Rōpu) from Fanclub
Painting a picture of a dream, “Tightrope” is a smooth, two-step-style tune with a peaceful main riff and a hefty build-up. It is melodically-moving and a masterful way to close out an album as great as Fanclub.
“My World” (マイ・ワールド Mai Wārudo) from Sol-Fa
Despite being hard to decipher, “My World” is a great song. It has a strong melody and an excellent pre-chorus that really make it stand out. This is one where it’s really hard to say anything particularly clever, so I say just give it a listen.
“A Lost Dog and the Beats of the Rain” (迷子犬と雨のビート Maigoinu to Ame no Beat) from Magic Disk
Used as the opening for the anime series “Tatami Galaxy”, “Maigoinu to Ame no Beat” is a pretty unique song for Ajikan. It features a lot of the band’s staples but adds a brass section and a touch of ska to the mix. It’s experimental for sure but works very well and it ranks high among my favorites, just outside of the top 10!