Ali and Jun, aka 80Kidz, might be Japan’s very own blogosphere darlings, but time hasn’t been kind on their peers in the West. Indie-dance favorites such as The Shoes and Autokratz, both of whom featured as guests on the band’s debut full-length, “This Is My Shit,” have fallen into irrelevance — victims of the rapidly changing tastes that music-blog aggregator HypeMachine’s Top 10 chart reflects on a weekly basis. It goes some way to explain why 80Kidz’s most recent single “Spoiled Boy,” a collaborative effort with CSS vocalist Lovefoxxx — which would have been every blogger’s wet dream this time last year — doesn’t even feature on their newest offering, “Weekend Warrior.”
In fact, aside from a rework of “Voice,” originally released in February, the duo’s sophomore release consists entirely of new material. Opening track “Nautilus” is an anthemic synth-stomper that encapsulates all the best features of 80Kidz’s maximal-tech style and kicks off proceedings with a bang. The majority of the album continues in a similar vein — polished, catchy instrumental tracks that never quite hit the peaks of the opener but have their own charms, be it the cascading synth-arpeggios in “Flow With It” or the cryptic spoken-word interjections in “Agenda” that walk the fine line between avante-garde hipster-chic and, well, plain old “Engrish.” If anything, the release could benefit from a bit less consistency — a few collaborations or vocal-led tracks wouldn’t have been out of place here, even if it did mean including some misses among the hits.
At times “Weekend Warrior” comes across as playing it too safe, but ultimately this is a mature, accomplished album that demonstrates exactly why 80Kidz have managed to outlive the blog-house craze and outlast the hype (machine).