The best dance songs are those that manage to navigate the pitfalls of the genre. Its easy to throw a bass beat underneath any old track and put it on in a club; its another thing entirely to get away with the same trick on an album. This isnt an issue for the Japanese Popstars, though. On Controlling Your Allegiance, they dont limit themselves with repetitive rhythms. Instead, each song crafts a different tone through varied instrumentation, multiple vocalists, and a high-level intensity that will get people moving.
The variety is noticeable from the get-go and never stops due to the expansive catalog of sounds used. Let Go revs up with whirling sirens into a blistering techno bass-and-drum pattern. Tomorrow Man is almost a keyboard solo, with fingers flying over the high end of the note chart. Falcon Punch is the most danceable of all the dance tracks here, kicking off with a rhythm reminiscent of Cant Get You Out of My Head. This one seriously has it all: laser noises, stuttering cuts, mechanical voices, a slowdown to recover, and the subsequent ramp-up for an insane moment on the dance floor.
The peak of Controlling Your Allegiance comes along with Take Forever, which features a guest appearance by The Cure’s Robert Smith. It starts off a little foreboding with a significant downshift beat. Soon enough, though, light guitar melodies come in to balance the mood out. The vocals fit the music wonderfully, sounding defeated and tired (more often than not, a trademark of Smith). But there are moments where glimmers of hope come through, including lines like The end is gone forever when the song comes on. Everything become less restrained and more emotional as time goes on, until the words are screamed out.
Japanese Popstars are a rarity among the techno legions out there. Their music doesnt only fit in a rave; it also makes you want to listen again and again. To find something that can be equally enjoyed on the dance floor and through headphones is truly special. Controlling your allegiance? No need. If this keeps up, well be willing allies for a long while.