Song Review: Sandaime J Soul Brothers – Movin’ On

I haven’t written much about any of the artists from Japan’s LDH empire since 2016, but I’m hoping to change that this year. Over the past few months, I’ve actively engrossed myself in the history of the agency’s Exile Tribe brand of groups, inspired by a late-2019 streak of excellent singles. That streak has continued into the new year, with several Exile-affiliated acts releasing new music during March.

In the West, Sandaime J Soul Brothers are arguably the most well-known of these sub-groups, scoring a major hit with 2014’s epic floor-filler R.Y.U.S.E.I., and often pairing with well-known global DJs and producers. Though their music is not exactly comparable, their rugged image has always reminded me of Japan’s answer to Bigbang. Vocalist Ryuji Imaichi’s flute-like tone has been a long-simmering acquired taste for me, but the group’s discography is stuffed with its fair share of modern J-pop classics.

Movin’ On is a bit of a turn for the group, with an energy perched halfway between their club-ready EDM tracks and more pensive ballads. It’s the tightest pop song they’ve released in awhile, and refreshingly straightforward in its appeal. A bubbling backbeat of chugging electronics and distorted guitar gives the verses just enough punch, quickly building to a satisfying beat drop when the chorus hits. The insistent rhythm here reminds me a bit of the UK garage style, but with more of a throbbing electronic base. More importantly, the breezy chorus unveils a simple, yet potent pop melody that compliments the members’ unique vocal textures. Much of the track feels in constant build, even when the instrumental hesitates during the extended bridge. This lends Movin’ On a great sense of movement, which is enhanced by some seriously impressive drone shots in the dizzying music video.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

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One thought on “Song Review: Sandaime J Soul Brothers – Movin’ On

  1. This song succeeds because of the producer. The song is otherwise a straight-forward conventional boy band pop song. But to paraphrase a common youtube comment: “How much trap do you want?
    The bpm doesn’t actually change from the verse to the chorus, but those multi multi multi layered trap beats make it sound that much more imperative. It makes it sounds faster than it is. I don’t know how many percussion lines are buried in there, but it sounds to me like 5 or 8 or 12 separate drum machines all turned on all at once to create a cacophony of 16th and 32nd notes to propel the chorus forward. Over all that in the chorus, the safest thing to do melodically is something like the simple descending line used here.

    The rest of it is OK.

    (OT: Reminds me of this: In the Nutcracker, the Royal Ballet do the best transformation scene ever from evening in the ballroom to the toy soldier part. There is so much scenery moving in and out, that the choreographer has Clara do very simple moves such as a simple bourree from far stage right to far stage left. A more complicated choreo would be overwhelmed by all the scenery movement, and would take away from all the choreo the stage hands have to do behind the scenes. “ the good stuff starts about 3:40 in. I wish the bootlegger bootlegged the wide shot which shows it all better – by 4:40 the stage hands have peeled off 4 or 5 layers of proscenium. “ stage manager point of view.)


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