Features Music Review

Luxury Disease: A New Phase for ONE OK ROCK

As the world slowly recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, classes have started to return to in-person lectures, and businesses started recovering, the story goes the same for ONE OK ROCK, a Japanese rock band formed in Tokyo, Japan, in 2005. They, in my opinion, are best described as a “fluid” rock band, that holds their roots in the traditional youthful J-Rock style at heart, but was able to grow overseas and produce various genres of music within albums in their own original and unique sound, that can appeal to the wider and more mainstream ‘Western’ audience in their later albums. I think that’s part of the reason why I always recommend them to everyone I meet who isn’t even a single bit interested in Japanese music.

Their newest album, Luxury Disease, was released on September 9, 2022. This is their tenth studio album and their first one since the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, with the previous album being Eye of the Storm which was released back in February 2019. This album release marks their grand return to the performing stage after the pandemic as they started touring across countries again, (please, return to Indonesia) and to some extent, their return to their older, more rock-heavy sound in their earlier albums, when they were still focused on establishing themselves as a band inside of Japan. 

The album’s name itself, Luxury Disease, is actually a direct translation of the title of their first album released in 2006 called Zeitakubyō. Taka, the band’s lead vocalist, said in an interview session on their official YouTube channel on July 1, 2022, that after spending several albums trying to build a name for themselves in the worldwide market, they are now trying to make a fresh start with all the experience they had in the US during the past two albums, while now wanting to bring back their more rock-centered sound for their newly gained worldwide audience. With the new album sounding more toward their original rock/alternative rock sound, there is a feeling of uncertainty within the band about whether the album is going to do well among their newly gained world audience, similar to the uncertainty they had when they were just starting out as a band, hence the direct translation from Zeitakubyō to Luxury Disease, to show that they are determined to do their best in sounding ‘themselves’ again.

And to me, it shows. “Vandalize” and “Save Yourself” are the main rock-sounding tracks, with their heavy guitar riffs and all out 2000’s rock style choruses and drops that make you feel strong enough to break your wall (please don’t), with “Vandalize” even being released as a theme song to SEGA’s upcoming Sonic Frontiers video game. Tracks like “Let Me Let You Go” and “Prove” show the more mellow side of the album in voicing romantic relationships while still maintaining the rock vibe they carry with the album. “So Far Gone” and “Your Tears Are Mine” offer a more dramatic tune to the album for those who are in heartbreak, with a slower tempo that complements the rock tune of the album well.

Some of the songs are co-written by other big-name artists as well. Brendon Urie’s Panic! at the Disco, one of my other favorite artists, co-wrote the track “Neon”, lending PATD’s trademark style of powerful melodic choruses and orchestral high notes. Ed Sheeran co-wrote the track “Renegades”, a youthful ballad song that serves as an anthem for young renegades who refuse to allow their battles and passions to be ignored. “Renegades” also has an MV that portrays youth empowerment in current-day social issues that I highly encourage you to check out. 

The album, as I’ve mentioned before, definitely leans more toward their initial rock sound in most of the songs as the band’s new phase of music in the post-pandemic era. But as ONE OK ROCK likes to do, they also managed to fit a few other genres that complement the rock songs well, adding depth into the album and making it an all-round banger to listen in different moods rather than a one-dimensional sound that you only listen to once in a while. It’s an album that I can easily recommend to anyone, regardless of their music tastes.

Author: Fransiskus Nino Boby Laksono / 194214119

Editor: Cherry Larissa Hendranata (QC)

Illustrator: Betsy Mariana Agoha

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