I haven’t had a chance to write about Japan’s mega girl group E-girls yet, though they are one of the few j-pop artists I listen to. More often than not, their sound is bright and cheerful, echoing much of what is going on in k-pop currently. For Strawberry Sadistic (Strawberry サディスティック), they maintain the up-tempo catchiness, but infuse it with a wallop of power pop guitars that gives the song more edge than past material.
The word “sadistic” oversells the darkness on display here, as the track is first and foremost a big-chorused example of singalong radio pop. Still, Strawberry feels a bit more “out there” when compared to the group’s usual style. It certainly never approaches hard rock territory, but what might normally be a driving synth riff is replaced by guitars. It gives the track a punky flair, even though nothing here comes close to being actual punk music. Instead, the commanding riff echoes 80’s power rock. It completely overtakes the verses, acting as the primary hook. But once the chorus launches forward, Strawberry‘s melody begins to shine.
What I love about E-girls is that they mix elements of j-pop with an international sound, tempering a performance style that can be a bit frantic and grating with a steady pop hand. This is the case with Strawberry‘s chorus, which retains the hallmarks of classic, punchy j-pop but also knows when to hold back. It’s a brilliant piece of melody — catchy from the first listen but brief enough that you’re instantly eager to hear it again. It’s the kind of ballsy hook you expect to be delivered by a group with this many members, and this time E-girls don’t disappoint.
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