King & Prince have been super active this year: a double a-side, an album, a single and another double a-side on the way in November. But as flush with material as we’ve been, I still think they had a stronger 2021 overall – at least musically. The recently released TraceTrace seeks to expand the sound of their discography once again, giving their pop style a more alternative electronic edge. It’s a gamble that works, even if TraceTrace is unlikely to sit amongst their best work.
Johnny’s groups tend to get some flack for their vocals. The agency approaches pop music differently than foreign listeners may be used to, with vocal prowess not always at the forefront of the overall idol package. But in TraceTrace, the vocal arrangement is immaculate. I’m smitten by the verses, which blend the main vocal line with a complimentary backing melody. I love how the two weave apart and back together. The minimalist production highlights this interplay. It’s really well done.
TraceTrace bounds into a more typical pop chorus, upping the energy and bringing in a fuller electronic backdrop. The melody feels a bit repetitive, but the overall sound is very engaging. I think this is the most aloof King & Prince have ever sounded on a single, and that’s an interesting contrast with their normally goofy personalities. At this point, they’ve proven they can pull off just about any genre they want. Some groups’ discographies would crumble under the constant shifting of styles, but somehow the sense of continuity has held strong all the way from Cinderella Girl to TraceTrace.
(as usual, the YouTube edit omits verse two)