Recently, I’ve begun to dive deeper into the world of incredibly large Japanese girl groups. Of these, Nogizaka46 is probably the one that I’ve taken the most interest towards. Not only do they have some of the strongest j-pop singles of all time up their sleeve, but their discography as whole is incredibly solid. This made me incredibly excited for their latest release. And while lead single Protective colour of Happiness is solid, it was pre release single Anastasia that really stood out to me.
Titled after the last surviving Russian princess, Anastasia is one of Nogizaka46’s most symphonic recordings. Opening with a collage of mellow EDM beats and filtered piano, the first verse is a slow burn of rising intensity. It’s probably the tracks most generic or throwaway moment, but it gets the job done. This leads to the pre-chorus, which ups the energy to create an exciting build towards the songs chorus. The blasting horns during this segment are particularly effective, adding a sense of drama that could otherwise be lost during such moments. The Chorus however, Is out of this world. It hits immediately and is one of the strongest melodies I’ve heard all year. It absolutely soars, backed by a powerful arrangement and the layered wall of vocals that are a staple in these tracks. There are many groups who go for this kind of layered delivery, but I think that Nogizaka46 pull it off the best. This arrangement provides added weight to the hook, transforming it into an ornate and beautiful centrepiece. It isn’t the strongest hook the girls have ever given us, but its definitely up there.
There are however a number of things that prevent me from fully loving Anastasia as much as do some of the groups other tracks. At a 5 minute runtime, Anastasia is one of the longer tracks within Nogizaka46’s discography. And it actually suffers in this regard. The song is probably overlong by about a minute, resulting in a listening experience that can get tiring after a while. The refrain can also get quite plodding after a number of listens, hence dulling the tracks overall effect. I know this is more of a personal gripe, but it’s just something that I have trouble working around. As I mentioned earlier, the verses also border on bland, but do improve over the course of the song.
As whole, Anastasia is easily the stronger of the groups two new singles and I expect even greater things on their new album. I’ll be eagerly awaiting their newest release and be bopping to this in the meantime.
Final Rating: 8.5 / 10
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