sooogood! - sooogood!

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When people usually think about the distant future, it’s either really serious or scary, as if our future selves have little sense of fun. Ignoring any sense of reality or hysteria, the ideal future ought to just be cruising among the stars, playing with cool toys, and partying in exotic locations, while robots and technology take care of all the hard work. It’s the dream of some innocent starry-eyed kid living in the 60’s or 70’s, before we all started thinking too much.

With a football helmet substituting for a spaceman’s helmet, big sunglasses and wide smile, sooogood! is that kid that never grew up. On his self-titled debut album, much of the lyrics focus on dance steps, girls and having a good time in what is ostensibly outer space. Sooogood! bills himself as a future singer-songwriter, and in terms of music that means an eclectic mixture of samples, programming, talk box and chiptune synths. Filters are used to give the impression that the vocals and instruments are being transmitted from another world, creating a sense of distance. Often there’s high lines of xylophones or other effects to simulate twinkling stars. But behind all the songs is a keen sense of pop, soul and funk, which makes these tunes really catchy and very danceable.

On “Dramatic Fake Bikini,” sooogood! channels Prince with a classic dance bassline/chord progression and breathy vocals, but from the title alone this song is already in the twilight zone. See, in the future, why would everything be really neat and ordered? If you’re in touch with all sort of exotic species and places, there should be a lot more diversity in expression. In the middle of a ripping guitar solo, he randomly shouts “spaghetti.” On “ミッドナイトパパはダンシングキング,” which has one of those percolating 80’s synth basslines, there’s a radio calisthenics breakdown. Meanwhile “KITH” has a nice soul groove, but in the pre chorus it drops out and we’re left with his digitized voice saying “okey dokey.” It’s quite silly and kind of out there, but despite all of this, you can definitely boogie down to these tunes.

The album also features a few romantic numbers, because if anything, the future is going to be about hooking up with all sorts of exotic species. That scenario is played to perfection on “Chocolate” which is a duet with famous Japanese singer/actress YOU. The combination of sooogood!’s digitized voice and YOU’s trademark super-cute vocals narrates a future love story among what could be a robot and a human, or an alien (either way, human-human is the least likely). “Thunder Baby” is a gentle parallel of “Cosmic Girl,” as sooogood! sings of riding throughout the galaxy with his thunder baby. Whether that’s a girl, a small creature, or thunder personified, that’s up to you to decide.

The album features quite a few guests, including Aris Mukaide, GOMESS and Fujii Riku, and they work well as unique foils for sooogood!’s imagination. It’s also partly because sooogood! himself is more of a songwriter than a singer, but that’s not much of an issue in this format. Leveraging his creativity and talent, this album allows you to really experience his vision of the future, and if you close your eyes it’s quite easy to imagine yourself flying among the stars, looking forward to your next fantastic encounter. Get on board.

Royce Leong