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New Tatsuro Yamashita: “Theme Of Mirai”

Maybe the only way to write a song that’s upbeat about the future in 2018 is to approach it from a place of nostalgia. Tatsuro Yamashita might be one of the only artists today who could pull it off, partially because he’s not someone anyone expect to grapple with the present exhaustion of 2018 (nor would most Japanese listeners want that) but mostly because he’s just the best at creating upbeat snapshots of what’s around the bend — I’m sure his songs made people just as giddy for tomorrow when the actual economic heyday of Japan was steps away as listening to “Theme Of Mirai” today (with no such bubble on the horizon) does. Yamashita is Japanese pop’s premier tinkerer, so this number (written for a movie, which I can only hope resembles the “Line Rider” style art at the beginning of the above clip) features all the “gyu! gyu!” backing vocals and piano notes in just the right place, to make the twinge of excitement at what is to come all the more palpable. And that’s before the saxophone solo, or the surprisingly understated hook. “Theme Of Mirai” feels pulled away from any other contemporary music trends — I mean, even city-pop-ish groups that kinda take cues from Yamashita are just capturing a “now” centered around chilling — but maybe that’s the best perspective to try to sell optimism. Listen above.