Jinsei × Boku =
The wordplay behind the title of ONE OK ROCK’s Jinsei x Boku = (Life x Me =) comes from the important question lead vocalist and lyricist Taka asked himself while recording his band’s sixth album: What was he willing to put all of his life on the line for? Since the Tokyo band’s breakout at the start of the 2010s, they had been filling increasingly bigger venues with their pop-punk music, inspired by the marquee bands featured on the Vans Warped Tour, and had begun their foray into the international arena. On achieving greater levels of success with each album, the band members began to reexamine their priorities. That mood of self-introspection informs the 13 tracks on Jinsei x Boku =. While many of the song lyrics on Jinsei look inward, the music is still loud and heavy on a scale befitting the huge spaces the band commands for its live shows, with Toru’s fierce guitars paired with Taka’s discordant screams showing a burning intensity from the raw emotions brewing inside. A scorched-earth atmosphere permeates “The Beginning,” whose brooding riffs echo the barren post-hardcore of Thursday, while the restless guitars and drum fills in “Ending Story??” reflect the singer’s relentless quest to prove his detractors wrong. Even on the more upbeat numbers, the exuberance behind the punk rush of “Nothing Helps” is designed to distract Taka from his thoughts of giving up. Throughout the songs on Jinsei x Boku =, Taka searches for the motivation to continue moving forward. He seems to reach a definitive answer by the penultimate track “69,” which replaces song hooks and choruses with an extended rapid-fire monologue that takes into account the importance of his bandmates as well as their fans. As the members of ONE OK ROCK bare their souls, they never lose sight of those loyal relationships.