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.