Jazz-rock or rock-jazz?

It’s hard to really criticize Do As Infinity.

The band’s individual influences, ranging from Led Zeppelin to Natalie Imbruglia, is reflected in a sound that rocks as hard as it swings. On DAI’s debut album, Break of Dawn, the Japanese trio crafted pop music that’s sophisticated while catchy, challenging but simple.

The band’s follow-up album, New World, takes the extremes of Do As Infinity’s unique jazz-pop-rock sound even further. On the whole, the results are terrific, but specific moments almost undermine that work.

Songs such as “Eien,” “Desire,” “Rumble Fish” and the title track exemplify Do As Infinity’s core muse — hook-filled pop with beefy guitars and smart harmonic rhythms.

While the band’s jazzier influences certainly make their songs more complex than the usual J-pop fare, at times the mood is just forced. “Holiday” is a decent enough swing number, but alongside the kinetic fireworks of “135,” the song sticks out quite sorely.

“We Are” is thoroughly bouncy tune reminiscent of Swing Out Sister’s post-debut work, but it pales in comparrison to DAI’s rockier moments.

And that’s the area where Do As Infinity have stronger moments. With a double guitar arsenal of Owatari Ryo and Nagao Dai, tracks such as the greasy “Snail” and the headbanging “Summer Days” give the two axeslingers plenty of room to show off.

Still, singer Van Tomiko has a powerful and appealing alto that suits all aspects of Do As Infinity’s aesthetic. The band makes good use of that talent, regardless of whether they’re leaning to one side of their musical equation or the other.

Thankfully, all the more awkward moments are limited to just a few tracks. The rest of the album is gloriously filler-free, each tune nicely balancing hard, driving rock with infectous hooks.

New World continues the excellent work Do As Infinity has already begun with its first album. The band’s unique sound can withstand any number of repeat listenings. They know their stuff.