Among all J-pop idols, AAA’s Nissy possesses my favorite voice. Incredibly rich and filled with character, it’s the kind of tone that can elevate even the slightest of material. Combine that with an old-fashioned sense of showmanship and you’ve got a performer at the top of his game. New single Relax & Chill may not be the most ambitious thing he’s recorded, but its simple summertime groove certainly goes down easy.
Built on a subdued guitar strum of a beat, Chill’s ingratiating verses have a breezy appeal, relying on Nissy’s vocals to do the heavy lifting. Additional instrumentation is brought in for the chorus, giving a fuller, more upbeat arrangement. The melody is deceivingly straightforward. The first time through, it’s pleasant but not particularly impactful. But this hook catches you off guard, worming its way into your memory in an almost imperceptible way until you find yourself humming it far after the song has ended.
In this way, Relax & Chill is the perfect summer antidote to the season’s more bombastic offerings. The track does take a brief, thrilling detour during its bridge, where the melody finds an unexpectedly funky groove before reclining back into its general sense of affability. More of these melodic peaks might have transformed Relax & Chill into something spectacular (à la his 2015 hit Never Stop), but as its laid-back title suggests, this is more a palette cleanser than a defining career statement.