Groups within Japan’s Sakamichi series can be hard to keep up with, not because they come back so frequently, but because each release tends to be supported by multiple music videos. Take Nogizaka46’s new single as an example. It’s promoted with no less than four videos, resulting in more “title tracks” than most K-pop acts release all year. Of course, the J-pop system is far different in this case, and not all of these songs will be promoted equally (or at all). Still, it’s a ton of content to keep up with.
This blitz of new music also lets listeners pick and choose. While all four songs are solid, I’m choosing to write about my favorite: the pulsing, electropop anthem Wilderness World. Many of my favorite Nogizaka46 songs contrast the group’s naturalistic performance style with an electronic backbone. I find the blend to be quite striking, even if it doesn’t always live up to its potential. And like the Tetsuya Komuro-produced Route 246 last year, Wilderness World tethers the girls’ vocals to a surging synth line.
The song’s melody embraces the kind of wispy, wordy style that’s come to characterize Nogizaka46 and its sister groups. There’s nothing surprising about it, but the briskness of its execution matches the production well. However, the moment that charms me most is the vocoder refrain that opens the track and later acts as a post-chorus. It delivers a satisfying injection of texture, giving Wilderness World an otherworldly quality and an identity of its own. Thankfully, the song never once loses its drive, thumping forward with an exciting energy even as many of its instrumental elements remain muted.