Today’s a good day for fans of Tokyo label and crew Trekkie Trax, especially those who like seeing that collective’s sound bubble up on bigger J-pop releases. Masyoshi Iimori pops up on EDM-laced pop performer Reol’s newest album, helping create the clang and shove of “insider.” Then you’ve got the UK-garage-raised Carpainter helping craft the skitter of “Dareka No Raise No Yume Demo Ii,” the latest song from rising singer-songwriter Kalen Anzai. Watch an optimistic, pinball-filled take on the future in the video below.
Anzai has been making moves in the world of J-pop since the start of last year, working with powerhouse company Avex to develop a sound tightroping between ‘90s nostalgia and vaguely “futuristic.” Getting Carpainter on board, then, makes total sense, and is one of the most inspired production choices team Anzai has made to date. His entire solo sound follows a similar mission statement — take the club sounds of the 1990s and find a fresh angle on them — and on “Dareka No Raise” he’s playing with a garage-indebted sound peppered by more contemporary elements weaved in throughout. It’s the right balance between nostalgic and now. Those post-chorus chop-a-thons, which find Carpainter turning Anzai’s singing into a little extra bounce, are especially memorable.
Over that shuffling beat, Anzai bounces along with verses reflecting on feelings both overwhelming and minute (she fits in a reference to convenience store coffee, so the stakes aren’t too high throughout). The chorus, though, is where she really shines, showing off her vocal range and ability to keep up with the tempo all at once without sacrificing any of the song’s earworm qualities. If J-pop moves into more indie (or at least indie-adjacent) spaces can sometimes feel hyper awkward, here’s one that makes a lot of sense and brings out the best in both artists.