Back in April, I found myself very impressed by NiziU’s digital single ASOBO. But after reviewing it, I went on to… never play the song again. Weird, huh? I guess I was able to recognize the strengths of the song even if they didn’t match my own musical preferences. But though I never returned to ASOBO, the track pointed toward a promising future for NiziU’s music. It felt like we were finally moving away from the hyper, shouty style that marred many of their early releases.
I may have been wrong, because new single Clap Clap feels like an unwelcome reversion. There are successful elements here (the descending synth in the chorus is pretty funky), but they’re undone by an obnoxious performance that places exclamations and asides over compelling singing and/or rapping. Having watched this group form on the Nizi Project, I’m confident they have so much more to offer than this. But, Clap Clap forces their vocals into a brash, reductive arrangement. Performers like Nina were fantastic on the show. Here, the producers give her climactic high note a combative, sing-shout approach that doesn’t work. What a missed opportunity for harmony, layering or tonal variation.
Elsewhere, Clap Clap is busy for busy’s sake. Not a moment of the chorus passes by without some cheeky aside. It’s very Kidz Bop in execution, making it hard to enjoy the song without exhaustion. It’s become very clear that I’m not the audience for NiziU’s music, but a song like Clap Clap should still work as a fizzy pop tonic. Sadly, this misses the mark.