Release Date: Apr 17, 2020
Record label: Dirty Hit
With the unbelievably strong lead single "STFU!", followed closely by the noughties pop, hair-metal-tinged "XS" and then the house-influenced addictive "Commes Des Garcons", how could she not be? On her eponymous debut album SAWAYAMA comes deftly woven threads of culture, family, and identity. Its heart lies in dualities; it's about being home and being away from home, the then and now, and most importantly, finding understanding. Opening with the musical elation of "Dynasty", there's something insurmountably theatrical and polished about it, be it the '80s hair-metal guitars, or the choir inspired backup vocals.
For Rina Sawayama, her Japanese-British identity has always been a part of her disposition as a singer-songwriter, whether she means for it or not. The Niigata-born, London-raised musician entered pop consciousness in 2017 with debut mini-album 'Rina', a masterful exploration into society as viewed through the lens of social media. An acute, sharp foray into anonymity in a world that doesn't really let you be anonymous, its success paved the way for Rina's stellar full-length follow-up in 'SAWAYAMA'.
The scene: TRL, 1999. The tweens: legion, transforming Times Square into a cheer section and breaking the dial-up internet voting for their video faves. Those videos: Backstreet Boys, Britney, and Korn's "Freak on a Leash." The nu-metal hit was No. 1 on TRL about 10 times--it probably would have topped the charts longer had MTV not pulled it after Columbine--and shared space with Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, and other decidedly un-bubblegum bands.
Pop has a new messiah in the form of Rina Sawayama and her debut album 'Sawayama'. This album has been a long time in the making and 'Dynasty' is the perfect first track, exploding into being with all its glam metal fury, demanding attention and setting the bar for the rest of the show. There's a nod to the early 2000s through much of the album. But rather than being nostalgic for the era, 'Sawayama' reworks and gives new life to the music Millennials and Gen Z'ers grew up to.