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New Tokyo Girls’ Style: “Last Romance”

“Last Romance” marks a bit of a throwback for idol unit Tokyo Girls’ Style…even if the marketing materials accompanying it try to tap into current trends. The description coming alongside the above clip busts out everyone’s favorite two words — city pop — in talking about “Last Romance,” trying to continue the group’s slow-burning evolution from stereotypical idol fare to something more “adult” (and capable of being absorbed by more mainstream audiences). But the trick is, Tokyo Girls’ Style did that. They were one of the first idols to embrace ’80s-born funk and pop sounds — beating Especia to the punch — in an effort to stand out. They’ve tried a lot of things since debuting — remember that sick future bass song? — and now they are coming back to where they started, but presenting it as a new direction because city pop is now trendy.

OK, presentation issues aside — “Last Romance” is a pretty good J-pop take on the sound. It features plenty of space for the members of the group to sing (no knock-out vocals, but they match well enough) and a nice synthesized take on throwback funk. It comes courtesy of the band Lucky Kilimanjaro, a group closer to synth-pop than anything else, but showing off a great pop sensibility that jumps off a little more than their own album from last year (the next Give Me Wallets, perhaps?). Again, not a radical move for the Avex outfit, but a solid one with some interesting twists. Listen above.