Last year was a weird one for E-Girls. After a few years where they felt like the logical next direction for J-pop to head in, 2017 felt a touch off. Not necessarily musically, though — E.G. Crazy was an overstuffed double album, but one featuring a pretty great “Cool” side loaded up with some of the year’s best hooks. The “pop” side…not so much. But a reshuffle within the group and the extended E-Girls family threw everything off, and they felt less there for the rest of the year. Not to mention solo members who had been primed for big solo success flopped — I mean, Dream Ami got dunked on by Punpee when it came to physical sales, let alone digitally where rap usually does well.
So “Pain, Pain” feels like a step in the right direction. It has flaws, most of all serving as the theme to a Japanese drama. That explains why the chorus feels a little flatter compared to everything around it, at least in the preview clip we are rolling with here. But the verses are so good as to make the inevitable fizzle out only a minor inconvenience. A rush of strings open “Pain, Pain” and stick around all the way until the chorus, the song only intensifying as it chugs ahead. It’s one of the more dramatic numbers a group best known for pure pop pleasure, and teases going over…until the verse softens things. But everything before hints at an interesting new angle for the group. Listen above.