Buried Treasure: Fantastics – Play Back

A J-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of J-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

I don’t usually write “buried treasure” reviews for J-pop acts, mostly because it can be hard to find song links that can be embedded. But, I plan to start running these features more frequently. And before I start talking about Play Back, I want to draw your attention to Fantastics’ upcoming single Stop For Nothing, which I believe has the potential to be one of my favorite songs of the year. This is all based on a 30-second instrumental clip, but the fact that the track has been described as funky electronic dance rock pretty much has me in a constant state of anticipation. This comes after the excellent High Fever, which is enjoying a second life on my playlist thanks to this great performance.

Anyway, Play Back functioned as the theme to Fantastics’ recent variety show Fun! Fun! Fantastics, in which they learned about J-pop hits of the 80’s-90’s and covered some of them. I would pay good money to have this series subbed, but alas LDH doesn’t seem to see the benefit of hiring a translator to help appeal to the international market. Any kind fansubber up for the challenge?

As you might expect, Play Back is a retro pastiche, through and through. I’m sure it won’t be for everyone, but this style of track is almost guaranteed to score well on The Bias List. I just love 80’s synth pop, and Play Back nails a specific high energy Stock Aitken Waterman sound that ruled much of the charts back then. It’s got a mighty synth riff, pummeling percussion and a great performance by the group’s dual vocalists. I especially love that fun rap verse that follows the first chorus. This isn’t the first time an act from Exile Tribe has tackled this style, but it’s always such a good time.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75



7 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Fantastics – Play Back

  1. See, now THIS is the kind of 80’s synthpop I love to hear! The sounds used here somehow take me back to an era of music that I wasn’t even around for.


  2. I’m glad that you write about LDH artists, they’re so good and deserve a lot more attention outside of Japan, thank you <333

    I've been loving FANTASTICS singles recently, very cohesive and make me think they're settling into a sound/image of retro-influenced pop. I'm also looking forward to the new release in May!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, they weren’t my cup of tea in Jr. Exile for a while. But their singles from Hey Darlin’ have been steadily winning me over


  3. I always love it when LDH do 80’s synth pop kind of music. My favorite remains the Energy project by Generations and E-girls. When Fantastics did High Fever, I knew that I should expect something similar and viola. Playback is a really great song and I hope LDH allows it’s artists to do songs like this once in a while


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