Exile Tribe’s 2019 Battle of Tokyo was one of the coolest, most ambitious J-pop projects in recent years. The collective’s four “junior” groups battled it out over a series of song collaborations, released subsequently throughout a single week in June. These were tied to big budget music videos that combined to create a (sometimes incoherent) mini movie. Now, Jr.Exile have returned for a spin-off, this time paired with videos that are a mix of anime and live action. As a genre, Anison is more popular than ever, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.
I’ve always found it weird that Generations are classified as part of Jr.Exile, given the fact they debuted over five years earlier than the next youngest Exile group. As such, they carry the air of elder statesman, and it makes sense that they’d be the ones to kick off this project with Liberation. In my mind, this is the coolest Generations have sounded since the last Battle of Tokyo. Given their recent singles, I feared they were moving in a more saccharine, soft pop direction. But, Liberation’s blazing techno EDM beat instantly changed that perception.
Coupled with slick animation, Liberation conjures images of neon cities and high-octane action. Its electronic instrumental is densely packed and never lets up. In fact, the song’s highlight is a vocal-free dance break during the bridge. This energy will quicken your pulse, regardless of your opinion on the actual song. But while Liberation may be a bit dull melodically, its propulsive structure matches the production perfectly. Its two-pronged chorus will sneak up on you, and recalls the best of Generation’s 2013-era work. You only really get this kind of track from J-pop, and I can’t wait to hear what the rest of the project delivers.