Idol group E-Girls have a knack for covers. On last year’s “Colorful Pop,” they opened with a song borrowing the main synthesizer line from Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Rydeen” before later transforming Japanese disco tunes and Bananarama singles into tightly crafted blasts of electro-pop. It made for one of 2014’s biggest J-pop surprises, but didn’t assert anything about the group beyond their name being attached to some catchy tracks.
Their third album, “E.G. Time,” strives to be all about E-Girls — just as the title implies. They still fit in some covers — a hyper take on an early Dreams Come True single and the theme song to the cartoon “Chibi Maruko-chan,” which sounds like it has been reworked by the Vengaboys — but the focus is on carving out a spot in the contemporary scene. And it works. “E.G. Time” is 2015’s first great J-pop album, and a welcome alternative to the infantile idols also capable of topping music charts.