High octane

Three words: eastern youth lite.

There are a number of bands that do two-guitar, sing-to-a-scream post-punk with a lot more blister than Asian Kung Fu Generation.

Even the Back Horn, with its eclectic, overwrought excess, could probably do a few circles around them. By comparrison, Asian Kung Fu Generation seem, well, watered down.

And yet, the magnetic voice of Kita Kensuke is difficult to ignore. His scream isn’t as untangled as Yamada Masashi (Back Horn) or Mukai Shuutoku (Zazen Boys), and his singing voice is expressive and powerful.

The band’s music is incredibly melodic, and its single-minded pursuit of a fast tempo nears obssession. It’s tough to remain a naysayer for long.

On Kunkei Five-M, Asian Kung Fu’s first major label album, the songs eventually bled into each other, running bass after running bass, power chord after power chord.

But Sol-fa, the band’s second album, shows a few signs of maturity.

“Yoru no Mukoo” finds the band easing up on the pulse, with drummer Idchichi Kiyoshi playing around the beat. “My World” builds up to big chorus rather than just pummeling from the outset.

“Mayonaka to Mahiru no Yume” and “Last Scene” show the band can handle a slower tempo just fine, and the acoustic guitars on “Kaigan Doori” add a nice touch.

Still, the rest of Sol-fa doesn’t stray far from the high octane push of Kunkei Five-M, and after a while, Asian Kung Fu’s music tends to get a bit homogenic.

But the band knows what it does best and does it very well. What it lacks in breadth, it makes up for in tight performances and clear melodies.

Asian Kung Fu Generation may not test the boundaries of rock music, but they certainly do a great job at making a good record.