ONE OK ROCK are a band that bring pop to rock in a way that very few others do in the modern day. With extreme melodic hooks straight from mainstream radio and electronics mixed sometimes with distorted guitars that bring a punch to the album’s underneath, Ambitions sees the Japanese giants collaborate with All Time Low‘s Alex Gaskarth (with whom they toured the US on last year’s Back To The Future Hearts Tour) for Jaded and apparently the whole of 5 Seconds of Summer on one track. Yes, really that mad.
Opening the record with Ambitious states exactly what the record is trying to be on multiple levels. The title shows their conceptual will to experiment with the music, and the music itself introduces the electronic sounds. Following it with Bombs Away gives a clearer picture of how the record means to go on musically though – the strength of electronic beats combines with Taka Moriuchi’s powerful vocals and a hard-hitting underpinning of drums, guitars and bass that allows the whole track to pull together which really uniquates Ambitions as a whole.
The lyrics in English are just as good as any band writing in their native language, yet ONE OK ROCK have recorded two versions of the album – the English version and Japanese one. The ability of the band to do this is impressive, and the lyrics hold great meaning. For example, the second verse of We Are is all English in our version but in the Japanese version it’s all in their native tongue yet both seem to fit the instrumentals perfectly. Not only that, but they have managed to engineer the lyrics to rhyme in English as well which is an added complication – well managed as always.
The most touching track on the album is Hard To Love, which is a well-executed acoustic(ish) track that stands out from the rest of the album quite distinctly. The crazily-blended electronics ONE OK ROCK bring are not even evident in the track, but to a more controlled extent than in other tracks where they just let rip on that aspect. Lyrics like “you showed me I was just a diamond in the rough” and “I was a rebel with a cause, I just didn’t know quite what it was” display the band’s ability to write cleverly even in a foreign language to them, and the heartfelt emotion included is best felt here.
Overall, one of the most bizarre releases in the scene probably since their last one so it could be said ONE OK ROCK have stuck to their winning formula on Ambitions. If you haven’t heard any of their music previously, listen to it – love it or hate it, it sure is an experience.