[Review] Sandaime J Soul Brothers’ “Movin’ On” is refreshingly straightforward

I haven’t written much about any of the artists from Japan’s LDH empire since 2016, but I’m hoping to change that this year. Over the past few months, I’ve actively engrossed myself in the history of the agency’s Exile Tribe brand of groups, inspired by a late-2019 streak of excellent singles. That streak has continued into the new year, with several Exile-affiliated acts releasing new music during March.

In the West, Sandaime J Soul Brothers are arguably the most well-known of these sub-groups, scoring a major hit with 2014’s epic floor-filler “R.Y.U.S.E.I., and often pairing with well-known global DJs and producers. Though their music is not exactly comparable, their rugged image has always reminded me of Japan’s answer to Big Bang. Vocalist Ryuji Imaichi’s flute-like tone has been a long-simmering acquired taste for me, but the group’s discography is stuffed with its fair share of modern J-pop classics.

Movin’ On” is a bit of a turn for the group, with an energy perched halfway between their club-ready EDM tracks and more pensive ballads. It’s the tightest pop song they’ve released in awhile, and refreshingly straightforward in its appeal.

A bubbling backbeat of chugging electronics and distorted guitar gives the verses just enough punch, quickly building to a satisfying beat drop when the chorus hits. The insistent rhythm here reminds me a bit of the UK garage style, but with more of a throbbing electronic base. More importantly, the breezy chorus unveils a simple, yet potent pop melody that compliments the members’ unique vocal textures.

Much of the track feels in constant build, even when the instrumental hesitates during the extended bridge. This lends “Movin’ On” a great sense of movement, which is enhanced by some seriously impressive drone shots in the dizzying music video.

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