“Where has Sakanaction been?”
That’s a thought I’ve wondered quite a bit recently as it felt like the five-piece, who mix rock music with electronic dance elements and stadium-ready flair, have been gone for quite some time. In reality, they haven’t. Their most recent single came out last October, hardly a hibernation. Yet the pace which top-level rock bands operate feels swift, and Sakanaction come off as a complete opposition to this rapid churn. “SORATO;” their latest, took its sweet time.
A quick introduction for those new to them: Sakanaction hails from Hokkaido, and started out in the mid Aughts. It took a few years for them to gain national traction, but did just that, with their 2010 single “Aruku Around” climbing into the top three of the charts. Their merger of stadium-sized hooks with dance elements made them stand out, as did their headier lyrics referencing Bach and the very process of creating music, among other topics. Nationwide tours, festival headlining slots, commercial tie-ups; all of that came to them, but the music remained ahead of their peers. Sakanaction’s biggest hit came in 2015 with “Shin Takarajima,” a skippy cut referencing the breezy pop of Japan’s showa era. Then...relative silence, with a few live shows and one other single.
“SORATO” holds very little back as a return statement. It’s one of the band’s outright dance numbers, featuring nervous synthesizer notes drizzling down until a big chorus (like, near-literal chorus) kicks in to raise the stakes. Then it drops away, and the group swings into a twinkling dance segment, building up again to the group singing and then zipping into every-more-hurried stretches.
While not a new technique within Sakanaction’s songbook - several numbers do this, such as “INORI” - ”SORATO” lacks any clear moment featuring lead vocalist Ichiro Yamaguchi’s singing (though he's the only member in the video, a clip which hints at them having a much higher budget). A bold move, considering this is one of the first songs to emerge from them since they truly climbed up to the upper echelons of Japanese music. Then again, a fidgety electronic number kicking away all expectations sounds just like the Sakanaction I missed.
Hear us on SBS PopAsia Digital Radio
Listen in 24/7 on Digital Radio, by downloading our free mobile app or by streaming live here on our website.
Download the app here: