Stance Punks' "World" Is Theirs for the Taking
For over ten years Japan's Stance Punks have gathered a big following, and for good reason: their sound blends the past, the present and the future of the punk world. The World Is Mine -- their sixth and most recent full-length album -- is not just a reminder of why Tsuru and company are the best in the industry; it's a rally cry for our generation.
The two-minute "Kon'ya Buchikowase" is a bit reminiscent of their Let It Roll opener "SOS," with Kenichi bashing away on the drums as if the Devil himself possessed him and Tsuru screaming with all his mighty pride. The title track follows, with the Punks telling the boys of the world to conquer this planet with fists flying high in the air. "Cal" comes next, which seems to be a song directed towards those that cannot escape the consequences of their actions. ("Kimi wa Cal" (karu) can be translated as "you reap," as in the phrase "you reap what you sow".) "girl" comes up afterwards, which could possibly be the most hardcore love song since the Blue Hearts sang "Kimi no Tame" on their 1987 self-titled debut.
"Subete ga Owa~tsu Chimau Mae ni" opens in a Damon Albarn-like fashion, before it transforms itself into something more in the vein of the Clash (even having Strummer's trademark holler halfway through the track). If there ever was a nicer homage to their heroes, I haven't heard it yet. "Ano Musume wa B," appears to be about two different things, both of which involve someone's daughter. Tsuru's usage of the word "bitch" can mean that this certain girl is a handful, but on the other hand he could be focusing more on her B-cup breasts than anything. (If I am wrong about this, I apologize.) "No Teacher For Me" is another homage to another punk band, this time the Sex Pistols; and their usage of "No future for me" and the opening riffs to "Anarchy in the UK." In just over 90 seconds Stance Punks, while grateful to Johnny Rotten, just bluntly say "I don't know" and "I don't care," for they are the ones that are now educating the students.
"the young boy fights his war" comes off as a chant for those shunned by their fellow townspeople, and rising to the top of their peers and doubters. "Ika Reta Sekai ni Birthday Song wo" is a song celebrating one's birth, but is also self-aware of the world they are growing up in. (The English translation for the song title is "Birthday Song for this Fucked-up World".) Clocking in at over seven minutes it's Stance Punks' longest song since their self-titled debut's "Mayonaka Shounen Totsugekidan," and manages to scream and hit harder than this predecessor. It roars like heavy thunder and crashes like a Harley Davidson smashing through a line of glass-plated windows. Adding a clip of Marylin Monroe's "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" at the end of the song was also a nice touch. The album ends with "Boy's Carol," which brings everyone that went through all the turmoil and anarchy together to sing a song of hope and to a better future.
Stance Punks may never sell out any arenas in America anytime soon, but that doesn't mean that they'll never be successful here. In fact with the growth of punk music from all over the world -- from America's Dropkick Murphys & Canada's Fucked Up to France's Second Sex & Sweden's the Hives -- it should be very soon when Japan is no longer looked at as a footnote in the book of punk; rather, a volume specifically for the Land of the Rising Sun will be written. The World Is Mine will win over new fans no problem, as well as keep older fans pleased. Years from now many more bands will rise from the ashes, and it'll be thanks to Stance Punks that they found their voice.
***** (out of five stars)