Kobe’s Tofubeats is a child of the internet, and the EPs and albums he’s released thus far in his career…both as bedroom uploader and major-label signing…have reflected this attention-deprived upbringing, one where you are always a “related video” away from falling down some new hole. His full-lengths jump all over the place, zipping from synth pop to rap to dance tracks, an approach never clearer than on last year’s First Album, which was a whirlwind of styles and sounds. Tofubeats still resides on the edges of mainstream J-pop, but that he’s there at all is incredible and a welcome, wild addition to the aisles at Tower Records.
His Stakeholder EP, out April 1, is a big leap forward from Tofubeats, and even though I’ve only had a copy of it for about a month, I think it is the best overall release he’s managed yet. Last Album and the year prior’s Lost Decade were wonky and fun, but featured moments that felt alright to skip over…if you get bored of one YouTube video, you just go find something else, right? Stakeholder packs the pinball-like nature of Tofubeats’ albums into individual songs, every track here (even the silly “Sitcom” intro) hitting on a bunch of ideas but in a way where it all clicks just right.
The title track — a video for it was released tonight — highlights this step up well. It goes from cheesy intro to a laid-back bounce before hinting a drop…that is far sweeter than expected. Tofubeats has never been shy about dropping in as many sounds as he can into a song, but I’m not sure they fall into place just right as they do on “Stakeholder.” And come the chorus, he’s drizzled himself in an especially warm bit of electro manipulation. I don’t know if the Internet is destroying are collective attention spans or whether all those people older than me are just old, but “Stakeholder” shows a scattered mind can be corralled into something fantastic. Listen above.