Release Date: Oct 21, 2016
Record label: Double Denim Records
“[A]ll art in the late capitalist society of high-powered media spectacles is, in a certain manner of speaking, ‘cute. ’”– Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, 2012 With Bonito Generation, Kero Kero Bonito get big and ambitious. Exercising a more polished sound than heard on their debut Intro Bonito, which felt somewhat dinky by design — it was often centered around decisively hollow chiptune-inspired arrangements — Bonito Generation is its own self-reflective hit parade carrying with it five pre-album singles and the potential for at least a few more.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the news this year, well, I implore you not to bother starting now. Ignorance is bliss after all. The curtains closing on icons who genuinely seemed immortal, the total shitshow that is world politics and, of course, whatever is happening with The Great British Bake Off. Basically, if 2016 becomes the new Dark Age, where we all blackout and don’t remember a thing, it’d be a treat.
What you see is what you get with Kero Kero Bonito. Instant sugar rush pop with extra icing on top, they’ve perfected the quick fix formula, throwing a dozen giant would-be singles into their debut album ‘Bonito Generation’. True to the title of lead single ‘Graduation’, they’ve been studying. Like being waist-deep in a ‘How To Make Bangers’ rulebook, KKB have mastered the art of pure, don’t-give-a-fuck pop.
PC Music-affiliated trio Kero Kero Bonito have found the sweet spot between sounding out of time and ahead of it, all at once. Their no-fat nuggets have the hyper-slickness of kawaii J-pop, while harking back to an era (the 90s, obv) when high-concept chart hits were as ubiquitous as boy bands’ curtains (recalling, especially, one-hit-wonders Len). They describe their own music as “bilingual schoolyard dancehall” – vocalist Sarah Midori Perry sings and raps in Japanese and English – but their songs are best when they stop being so satirically cutesy and zip somewhere else.
If the new Nintendo Switch came to life and found itself inclined to pursue a career in pop music, it probably would sound something like Kero Kero Bonito. The trio occupies a unique niche in today’s pop market, as if Lily Allen found herself making a J-pop record. Vocalist Sarah Midori Perry is as open as a Tumblr post, able to swing between tender and teasing with same ease as she jumps from English to Japanese.