ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION: LandmarkWhenever I proclaim how much of a fan of ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION I’m not, someone somewhere is probably quoting Hamlet, Act III, Scene II: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Fine. After much ambivalence, I can consider myself an ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION fan, in the same way I was a reluctant Rufus Wainwright fan.

It’s tough to rag on a band with such an upbeat aesthetic, especially since said band provides some of the best workout music to bring to the gym.

But like their post-rock cohorts in MONO, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION seldom strays outside the borders of their particular sound. It’s unlikely ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION will pivot and turn itself into an ’80s cover band.

That reliability is comforting, but it pretty much limits the creative range of their albums.

So what would an ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION album need to make a person eschew the Evil Sharing Networks and drop $30+ for a physical copy? For an answer, listen to World World World. On that album, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION aimed for the grandeur of a concept album and came up with a winner.

When the band really concentrates on making their melodies the catchiest they can be — with arrangements that bleed out just enough from those strict creative borders — they make awesome work.

And Landmark is pretty awesome.

Chatmonchy’s Hashimoto Eriko complements singer Goto Masafumi wonderfully on the album opener “All right part 2”. The chorus, in particular, is a tough ear worm against which to defend.

“A to Z” builds up to a pretty majestic chorus, with a cavernous reverb that really opens the song up. “1980” has an easy swagger that makes it danceable, while “Sore Dewa, Mata Ashita” and “Taiyou Kourou” serve up the upbeat melodicism typical of an ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION release. “Anemone no Saku Haru ni” wraps the album up nicely with acoustic guitars and rising chords.

Unlike World World World, a concept doesn’t run through Landmark, but it doesn’t stop the album from being one of the band’s most coherent works. It’s tough to find filler here.

It’s easy to criticize ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION for recording the same album multiple times — really, what band doesn’t? — but when they hit their target, the results are completely satisfying.