Read The 405's Guide to J-pop for more information. It's part of our J-pop week.

Just as it's the case in any country, young bands trying to break away from the music that's influenced them is a difficult task. Hotly tipped Tokyo unit Passepied has been battling this very problem - they are an energetic group blessed with the ability to right a hell of a hook, but also one sometimes wearing their influences too clearly on their chest. Yet this year, the quintet has finally found a sound all their own, and appear poised to take a big step forward domestically.

Passepied came together in 2009, a collection of art-school kids forming a band capable of tight rock, but smart enough to know when to lighten up and write a radio-ready chorus. Keyboardist Haneda Narita's contributions are the ultimate wildcard in their music, as he summons up an unpredictable electric rush that often sounds like a '60s baseball organ gone wild. Lead singer Natsuki Ogoda, meanwhile, sings in chirps, capable of enunciating a word just right to make them click.

Across their first two albums, however, Passepied could sometimes sound a touch too much like the groups that had inspired them in the past. For all the strong moments sprinkled about, they also sometimes came off as veering too close to the sound of various '90s J-pop staples. More so, they recalled the group Sotaisei Riron, a band shrouded in mystery responsible for similarly tight, catchy songs. Both even featured lead singers delivering their lyrics in a similar style.

Over the past few months, though, Passepied have carved out their own identity and finally hit on the promise they've always hinted at. The process started with late-2013 single 'Toryanse'. Ogoda flexes her vocal abilities more, while the music unfolds at a less manic pace, building up to the best chorus they've written to date - a bouncy hook made all the sweeter by a secondary set of Ogoda's vocals cheering her on. Add on the best music video they've been part of yet, and it's a big breakthrough for Passepied.

This new-found confidence carries over to new album Maku No Uchi Ism, a collection that finds them exploring new sonic territory and coming out looking pretty good. They create songs that go on mini-journeys, and even pull off a ballad. And, on cuts like the glittery 'Matatabistep', they've gotten more efficient at conjuring up a big, catchy chorus. Most importantly, they've found their own voice to do it in.