Whether because current tastes veer towards long-gone times that were significantly better than the current state of the world or because we are stuck in a algorithmic-dictated dystopia of “remember the ’80s?” sales pitches, nostalgia pretty much dominates large chunks of music communities around the world — including (especially?) in Japan. The past week has seen two of the more interesting takes on the past, one playing for mainstream listeners and the other gunning for weirder corners…but both at least doing it better. Let’s go with the prior first. The trio of G.Rina, Zen-La-Rock and Chinza Dopeness found success last year with “Seventh Heaven,” a bit of late ’80s pop-rap strut. They’ve gone and formed a new group called FNCY, and debut number “Aoiyoru” pretty much doubles down on what they established last year — down to a video set in another Asian country, tapping into a larger trend of Japanese artists kinda exoticizing countries nearby. All sorts of landmines can present themselves when digging into the past — but if you can pull it off well, it usually doesn’t matter. And they do! It is propelled by a good beat, and they tag-team in and out just right, building up to a sweet hook provided by G.Rina. Maybe a touch too aware, but hits all the right marks. Listen above.
For those seeking a more warped take on nostalgia, long-running collective Pan Pacific Playa delivers with the wonky Fuku To Tomi https://pushap.theshop.jp/ compilation. They get tagged with the throwback term mostly because of artists like BTB (here, BTB Tookou), who lean in on the talk box for easy remember-the-past points. But they also incorporate far weirder and more interesting artists, here highlighted by the neon bounce of Nou’s “Japan Splash,” or the easy-going tropical vibe of Palmstreet’s contribution. And then you get some real curveballs, like a manic bit of juke from Paisley Parks, or the malfunctioning electronic of KES’ number. Splashes of yesteryear come up — but they get offset by something far stranger. Get it here, or listen below.