“Do you have an album you recently liked?” Tofubeats cried out on 2017’s “Shoppingmall,” the lead-off track of their last album, Fantasy Club. There, drowned-out by noises of the modern world, digital-pop producer Yūsuke Kawai still desperately yearned to connect with anyone who was willing to listen to his diary-like music. His anxiety may have subsided a bit since, but he once again clutches on to music for emotional support — and as a guide to finding missed connections — on Run. Kawai calls out the “DJ” in the ‘90s-nostalgic R&B jam “Moonlight,” and proceeds to run through a series of back-to-back house tracks, each serving as a direct genre exercise: Tofubeats steps outside of his usual style to flex his dance-music know-how, with acid (“You Make Me Acid”), deep house (“Return to Sender”), and electro (“Bullet TRN”). After this run of instrumentals, Kawai reemerges — and on “Sometimes,” he bashfully sings, “I want you to play me a record you like,” as if reminiscing about the music that came immediately before. “Dead Wax” then catches a lonely Tofubeats, left at a venue after a show with the lights back on and the music shut off. But the final piano ballad, “River,” concludes Run in a tone far removed from that of the album’s blindly infatuated opener, “Immortal Love” — settling on a contented ending, rather than sulking in disappointment. Kawai may still be a wanderer on Run, trying to fill a void by forming new relationships and sharing his favorite records, but he seems more willing to take those experiences in stride.
Published as part of Foreign Correspondent | Issue 1.