|Another new album I can proudly say I thoroughly enjoy.|
I hate pop. Wait, that has been established a long time ago... yet I still mention it. This introduction is pointless.
Like a preppy girl is jealous of another girl's pricey skirt, bag, or outfit, I am madly envious of anyone who can speak more than one language. My green jealousy is nearly at the level of deep, pure, black resentment for the lucky ducks. Or maybe I just hate my laziness and impantience...
Back in 2008, Bentley Jones released TRANS//LATION, his bilingual debut album featuring covers of Japanese pop songs. Ben-chan sang most of them in their original language, but he got permission to translate some into English. It was only released in Japan and is yet to officially set foot further west. But that's where TRANS//LATION 2 comes in. This album has a handful of new tracks and re-recorded versions of two songs on TRANS//LATION: "Sunao ni Naretara" (or "FINAL NIGHT") and "GLAMOROUS SKY."
There will be plenty of Japanese for the English-speakers and English to the Japanese-speakers. Consider this a "no duh" warning for the clueless. Moving on.
Anyone who is a fan of the Shakugan no Shana anime might be happy or enraged by this special cover of "JOINT," which is much a more aggressive rock track than the original. After hearing this and the original, Ben-chan's version creates a more epic four minute track of badassness without spilling into unlistenable noise territory. Also, fans of Naruto Shippuden might recognize one of the ending themes: "Michi~to you all." I know I didn't; but my stance on Naruto as a whole is completely irrelevant.
As for English covers, Bentley gives us a hilariously catchy song, "Word Up," which is tolerable for one who dislikes dance music. Despite the somewhat creepy lyrics, "Stay" is very melodic and epic track despite the chorus having only three words repeated over and over. Meanwhile "Running Up That Hill" is a pleasant surprise by not being soft and mellow like Placebo's cover. Oh, no. It gets intense here too.
But probably the most memorable track is "GLAMOROUS SKY." In TRANS//LATION, it was a weak. Now, it is a symphonic, heartbreaking pop rock track whether you listen to it in English or Japanese.
So, take a step back from the information overload and let the nitpicking begin.
On one hand, I praise Ben-chan for singing in Japanese very well. When I first discovered his music a few months ago, I had no clue he was British. Props to anyone who can sing in another language pretty darn convincingly and clearly. Also, each individual song stands on its own enough so not one track sounds exactly the same, even if one cannot understand a lick of Japanese.
Best of all, even though this is considered pop and autotune is used, Bentley Jones's voice is emotional and genuine, giving very beautiful performances when he wants. Even when he jokes around in "Word Up," he doesn't come off as an overconfident party animal desperate to get attention. Unlike some obnoxious artists in the mainstream...
However, releasing a new album with nothing but covers is a bit of a let-down after blowing off steam with Finally Free. In a way the release TRANS//LATION 2 says "Yeah, Bentley Jones can make his own music now that he can do what he wants, but let's stick to the debut album shtick." Sure, now he releases singles and other small goodies, but it would be nice to hear another full album with his own material. Maybe that's what's in store next.
TRANS//LATION 2 is not as good as Finally Free, but this is definitely worth checking out. Like Escape the Fate, this is yet another newly released album that I can proudly love.
FINAL VERDICT: 4 out of 5