FEMM: Tokyo Girls Anthem / #2021reviews
When FEMM debuted in 2014 they were the J-Pop sensation of the year. The mysterious duo, moving around like some sort of androids, doing superb, contemporary dance pop. They kept it up till 2016, but then kind of ran out of steam: new material became scarce and the quality waned, being a mere shadow of their early output for the most part with a few gems popping up here and there. After a longer period of relative inactivity they returned with a new EP late 2020, quitting their robotic moves, but still sticking to the same sound and now they dropped Tokyo Girls Anthem, another EP, so let’s see what we got this time:
There are ten tracks altogether, but actually only the first four are new, the rest are just remastered versions of earlier songs, both old and new: three from last year’s 404 Not Found EP, Plastic from Dollhouse (2018), their collab with Elle Teresa and somewhat surprisingly L.C.S., a classic track from 2016. It is a nice selection of FEMM tunes, sure, L.C.S. is still a banger, Dolls Kill is still weird, Peach is still refreshingly experimental and so on, but what was the point of including them here? Now that’s a good question, as they are nearly unchanged and don’t really serve a purpose here. Well, except maybe generating some additional streams and downloads for the label.
And the new ones? Well, they are as spotty as anything they have done in the last couple of years. The opening title track sums up everything that’s wrong with many of the recent FEMM songs: it is a weak, vocoder-heavy track, that tries to be laid-back and cool, but just ends up being boring and which, even at first listen sounds like something we have heard from them many times. It isn’t groovy, isn’t memorable, it is just there, doing nothing for the listener. The following Mental Health takes things to a completely different direction: it is a trap tune, built up around some really heavy basslines and it sounds more like the stuff FEMM was doing as part of the FAMM’IN project… and it actually features Yup’in, who was also in FAMM’IN. But yet again, even though it shakes things up a bit, it isn’t a memorable track either and to make matters worse, it has a pretty bad tacky pop part about halfway trough, that has nothing to do with the rest of the track, but completely kills the vibe. I was about to give up on this EP at this point, but then Lolly (produced by Lisachris) came along and saved the day. It is a very cool little pop track, with a mid-tempo hip-hop beat, some exceptional singing, using unexpected and cleverly placed samples. This one’s the absolute standout track here, followed by ID-T1G3R which is similar to the opening Tokyo Girls Anthem, except this time it’s done right with an actual cool, laid-back vibe, instead of all he boredom.
So, what’s the verdict? Two good tracks, two not-so-good ones and six oldies, that are kinda pointless here. This definitely will not be the release that reclaims the fan favorite position they once had, however it yet again proves that they still have tremendous potential when they have good material to work with… so, Avex, please, more proper songs next time, OK? As for viewing material: the title track’s music video premiered today, but eventually all the new tracks will have their own music videos, with Mental Health and Lolly coming in January and ID:T1G3R sometime later on.
Tokyo Girls Anthem
2021.12.17 / digital
01.Tokyo Girls Anthem
02.Mental Health feat. Yup’in
06.Dolls Kill feat. Elle Teresa
09.Level Up feat. Duke of Harajuku
A year in reviews: in 2021 I was somewhat neglecting the site due to the lack of free time, but now I try to make up for it as much as possible, reviewing several important / good / interesting albums that were released this year. One for each day throughout December, from a very wide spectrum of genres. #2021reviews