The title ‘Ambitions’ is a fair description of One OK Rock‘s eighth record as the band have finally had a big push to branch out from their native Japan and take on the Western world. Having sold out huge arenas in Asia over their career, the pop-rock four piece have teamed up with Fueled By Ramen with the aim of becoming the new pin-up sensations, and, let’s be honest, to sell a shit tonne of records.
‘Ambitions’ has gone all in on trying to take over the mainstream rock world with 5 Seconds Of Summer, producer John Feldmann, and pop writer Andrew Goldstein all appearing on the mass friendly record that unsurprisingly fails to challenge or interest consistently over a full album.
Lyrically, the songs reflect the title with generic themes of reaching dreams and overcoming obstacles; ‘Bombs Away’, which is comfortably the best track on the record, explores fighting off inner issues and triggers some excitement when ex-boyband singer Takahiro Moriuchi swaps to Japanese on the second verse.
One OK Rock (pronounced “one o’clock”) understandably want to stay away from the Japanese guise to hit the mass global market, but the bilingual approach makes them stand out from the rest of pack. ‘American Girls’ is a great pop track that has a different perspective from the normal tracks of probably the same name, but they don’t stray from the path enough on the rest of ‘Ambitions’ to maintain the difference.
The worst parts of the record stem from what are clear attempts to capture a global teen market, like the horrible echoed group singing at both ends of ‘We Are’ that are straight out of the Thirty Seconds To Mars playbook, or the electronics entwined into ‘Bon Voyage’ that stink of The 1975. The developing westernisation of One OK Rock is almost complete with perfect English pronunciation clearly improved since last record ’35xxxv’, and a guest spot from All Time Low‘s Alex Gaskarth on ‘Jaded’ compiled into the perfect package ideal for selling the brand globally.
If you’re into the pop fuelled melodies of Tonight Alive, 5 Seconds Of Summer and the like, then One OK Rock will blow your mind, but be sure to swerve if you’re after more substance.
Written by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.