Released: April 19, 2017
After a reasonably strong debut with the EDM-fuelled “Lightning”, Japanese boy band THE RAMPAGE from EXILE TRIBE dropped their follow-up mid-last month, titled “Frontiers”. There seems to be a very common trait with the Exile crew, notably their inevitable single releases literally right after another, and of course, a big assistance with the production and sound. And, with a bunch of B-sides to boast their releases, their seems to be no surprise in ratifying the group to maybe something a little outside the EXILE comfort zone.
But alas, that’s where the problem lies. No tea or share towards the Exile family—only because most of their hits are F-ing BANGERS to the J-Pop lords above—, but “Frontiers” is… well, how should I say it? Not exactly what the title suggests (told y’all… no tea no shade). It’s a quintessential mix of slick hip-hop and hardcore electronic synths, meddle with a tinge of rapping segments, semi-decent vocal deliveries and a streak of confident songwriting. Yup… I get it, it get’s an A+ in the production department. The problem is that it seems a tad (JUST a tad) unoriginal and very predictable, considering that this type of sound and appeal is very… well, too EXILE-esque. Because of that, majority of the song isn’t really that exciting or as impressive than their debut single, which honestly had me hungry for more. And to get this was a little disappointing.
Of course, the following B-side “Knocking Knocking” is, without a doubt, a LOT better than the single itself, offering a fresh-out-of-the-oven trap sound with heavy electronic elements and, of course a seductive performance by member Kazuma Kawamura. But again, it feels like I’m re-visiting K-pop-land from like… 2012 or something? Now that’s not a bad thing (the irony of mentioning K-pop in a J-pop song), because the sound is addictive and catchy-as-hell. BUT… it’s still quite predictable and “been there, done that”. And the bonus instrumental composition of “13 Savage” gives us a slice of sick trap beats, completely filled with intoxicating bass moments. But even that can’t necessarily save the single.
Vocally, all three boys—members Riku, Kazuma and Hokuto—have come a long way and are sure impressing the living SHIT out of me when they sing (and of course, don’t forget to give the big ups to them performers!). But with a single like “Frontiers”, it doesn’t live up to expectations than what “Lighting” did. To me, “Frontiers” is a little disappointing. It’s listenable and catchy, but just not extremely impressive. Y’all boys better get it GOOD when I hear the next single “Dirty Disco” in July; mainly because I LIVE for some disco music, and love to jam to some diiiirrrttttaaaayyyy beats. So, PUSH IT WITH THE NEXT SINGLE!