If you’re sitting around feeling like summer is already halfway over, probably the best advice anyone could give you right now would be to suggest you kick off some fresh summer-ready energy with Japan’s favorite feel-good rockers— scratch that, Japan’s favorite rockers. Period. B’Z.
Did you want to spend July hanging out with a cool band in a recording studio, ideally in some poorly air-conditioned recording studio on the 7th floor of some Tokyo high-rise? If you’re like me, and that was your unfulfilled summer plan, I have just the thing for you. Let’s head back to the hive and let loose with a 90’s release you may be overlooking amidst this deluge of summer new releases: B’z’s LOOSE.
LOOSE, what should be a Japanese national treasure, opens with spirit loose, probably the roughest, rawest, most transportational intro to an album I’ve ever heard. Raw guitar shredding, and Inaba Kohshi’s high-pitched wailing and revved up waaaaaaaaaaa OOOHs have you in that hot Tokyo recording studio within the first ten seconds. It’s probably the closest you and I will ever get to chilling with B’z, but hey, it’s not so bad this way.
LOOSE is full of the B’z classic sound. On first impression it seems almost like Western rock at its finest– and as interpreted by two Japanese. Only Western music could never sound this good. Inaba’s unrivaled vocals and Matsumoto Tak’s unbelievable rocking-out, doused with a lighter-fluid of vocal melody and dry tinder of instrumental foundations give us a bonfire that has raged already for over twenty years– and is going strong.
Something about B’z is that their music is all…well, forgive the pun, but loose. At the end of a song, you will often find yourself hitting Repeat, thinking, ‘what did I just hear?’ Often a straight-forward melody can be hard to put your finger on. The music and melodies both are surprising, always fresh, and unpredictable. Sometimes you feel like Matsumoto just started jamming and Inaba came up with a melody on the spot, they recorded, and the album sold millions. Their sound can be shockingly organic, and as a result, sucks you in– never to return. Their rough-around-the-edges attitude and astoundingly mixed-genre rock’n’roll is a world of aural delight that satisfies on all levels.
spirit loose lets us test the water a little bit, settling us into a sense of camaraderie with our musical hosts. By the second track, ザ ルーズ (The Loose), we’ve been hooked, pulled into the undertow of the album, unprepared for its oceanic swells that ebb with powerful, melodic ねがい (“BUZZ!!” style) [Wish “BUZZ!!” style] and flow with crescendo into BAD COMMUNICATION. Along with its upbeat and sometimes borderline-heavy rock tracks, LOOSE is ripe with that soulful, back-and-forth-swaying melancholy and jazzy bass that has us meandering along the sunset beach, toes sinking into the mushy cool sand (消えない虹). However, far from letting us get too sentimental, we cruise on into love me, I love you which lifts your mood unstoppably and unbelievably high…
We’d be here all night if I covered the euphoric coolness of the remaining tracks. With a beat count at 14 tracks, it sounds like a tall-order to have every single song be so packed with energy and sheer awesomeness that you would actually consider every last one a standing favorite– but that’s precisely what B’z delivers with LOOSE. From the intro to the ending, they pack in such a continuous stream of hits, each as full of B’z glory as the next, that all we can do when the album closes, is start it all over again.
Video: Love Phantom, 8th track on LOOSE
Learn more about B’z (Japanese)