The thing about Especia is…they still sound like Especia. The group’s actual structure changed radically this year — an idol group being transformed into a more…focused? What’s the opposite of idol?… trio shedding the idol tag, featuring a new member. They basically became brand new, reflected in a new visual style that rejects A E S T H E T I C in favor of something less internet-y. Yet on a musical level, a song like “Danger” isn’t far removed from what they were doing on Carta earlier this year, minus synthesizers — it features the same tigh bass lines, horn blurts and funk tempo that has defined their music since they formed. They sing in English and, since they shed the “idol” part, the hooks lack the same force as their songs did when they were six-members strong (also maybe they should rethink the breakdown here). But “Danger” is solid coming from them, and a lot of the tripping points come beyond the music.
Strangely enough, “Danger” highlights someone else returning to what they do best. The song was composed by Kai Takahashi, currently the head of city-pop-revival act Lucky Tapes. That trio’s music has mostly been a touch too sleepy for my tastes, more like pleasant background sounds than something to get swept up in. Which was made doubly disappointing by the fact Kai Takahashi was a hell of a producer, working on some great stuff. “Danger,” though, is far more active and fun, a reminder of how good Takahashi can be when getting swept up in the music. Listen above.