J-Pop is not a particularly global genre, and it only has its own systems and practices to blame. Its music videos and albums are often heavily restricted from international users, making it hard to discover new artists. Its musical touchstones are sprawling and diverse, but don’t always adhere to global trends or tastes. Japan is an idiosyncratic place, and more power to them! But it’s hard not to wonder how j-pop groups might fare if they took a cue from k-pop’s international-minded accessibility.
Enter FlowBack, whose music honestly feels more westernized than most of their peers. Their last single, Heartbreaker, was a brilliant mash-up of 80’s synth and 90’s boyband bliss. Booyah switches things up entirely, jettisoning the pop hooks and straightforward dance beat for something darker and much more experimental. The track starts routinely enough, with a heavy dose of electro bass and some cringey English posturing. From there, the instrumental switches tempos and structures multiple times, drawing from elements of future bass, trap and hip-hop to create a glitchy, unpredictable soundscape.
This minimalist approach doesn’t allow for a whole lot of pop melody to break through. Much of the track is dominated by rap verses, which naturally compliment the rumbling beat and serpentine electro riffs. Thankfully, the melodic portions are delivered with aplomb. The heavy layering on the vocals gives a dense, dramatic effect that acts as a powerful anchor when the song threatens to swerve off the rails. As a whole, Booyah isn’t as consistently solid as FlowBack’s past material, but it offers an interesting departure that proves the guys aren’t content to simply rest on their laurels.