There are very few J-pop albums that wouldn’t benefit from being sliced in half. The industry-standard dictating that every new release needs to be packed to the CD’s breaking point results in a finished product that’s bloated, and usually impossible to sit through without an itchy “skip” finger. This is, however, the model, and J-pop (heck, drop the “J”) has mostly treated the album as just another product rather than some sort of statement (and, hey, that might honestly be fine…Tiny Mix Tapes’ decision to focus on their favorite 50 releases of the year, rather than albums, sounds more appealing each day). Still, even if we reduce the CD as just another consumable good…lopping off twenty minutes most J-pop collections would result in a much more enjoyable product.
So it isn’t surprising that frantic idol unit Dempagumi.inc’s newest album WWDD suffers because of an hour-plus run time featuring a drag of a back half. Still, few albums practically beg to be trimmed down like this one* — lurking within here is a great eight-song set, capped off by one of their finest singles ever. But again, it sort of comes back to even having the expectation that a Dempagumi.inc album should be great in the first place, when they’ve mostly stood out as a killer singles band thus far. But WWDD feels like a missed opportunity of sorts, especially given that this is the album they released at the absolute peak of their mainstream popularity.
In a fitting Dempagumi-esque move (joke, in a fitting Japanese pop industry move), they are already zooming off into a new single that’s tied up with a pachinko machine, but let’s not dwell on that. There are two songs for this, one which sounds like someone trying to imitate a Dempagumi.inc song…and “Gidagida Da Zubuzubu Da,” a solid horn-guided skipper of a song. For large chunks of this, the group get as laid back as they can without stumbling into boring ballad territory…and even fit a rap in there. It sounds fun. And then the pace picks up, but never breaking a sweat, developing into a skittery rush but never overdoing it. It’s nice! Watch the video above.
*All of these complaints could also be aimed at Dempagumi.inc’s World Wide Dempa album from the end of 2013…again, a few of those songs need to go…but that one works way better overall and the highs are fucking atmosphere pushing.