The early 2010’s idol scene found groups grasping for any visual or sonic cue that would help them stand out from the crowd. Latching onto a specific genre could pay off big time, but it could also result in strange creations such as air guitar idols or steam-punk-themed outfits (with terrible music). Novelty has always been a cornerstone of the idol corner of Japanese music, and it was only natural for it to slide to extremes in the 2010s, but you wouldn’t be blamed for being skeptical of groups with juicy press releases making good music. So “shoegaze idols” ・・・・・・・・・ (Dots from here on out) should raise eyebrows. They got a lot of attention for announcing that their first physical release later this month is one 70-minute-long song (really four songs weaved together by a Japanese ambient artist…I guess “ambient idols” lacks the same pizazz), which is obvious bait. Meanwhile, idols embracing shoegaze elements isn’t new…check out this mix for some examples.
“Slider” eases these suspicions a bit. One of the big failings of idol music is when a group embraces a certain style and promptly does it worse than bands just doing it without gimmickry. Yet Dots make shoegaze, a genre in such surplus in Japan that any of those worries vanish. Go to Koenji station, throw a can in any direction and odds are you hit someone in a band biting Ride. “Slider” is easily better than 80 percent of the shoegaze tunes that pipe out of livehouses and SoundCloud accounts here, partially because the vocals sneak through clearly and add a sweetness often avalanched in other group’s works. Yet it also goes a long way that the song was written by Azusa Suga, of actually great indie-pop outfit For Tracy Hyde (those synth lines lurking in the instrumental passages!). That’s the other way to make your pop group stand out…bring in people who know what they are doing. If Dots keep that up, they might stand out from the pack. Listen above.