An uplifting and vibrant album from the Anglo/Japanese trio, despite the start being a little too weighted to their best songs.
Kero Kero Bonito, a London-based trio of bilingual vocalist Sarah Midori Perry and producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled, formed when Perry responded to their ad for a Japanese speaker, wanting to break away from traditional band structures. After the release of mixtape Intro Bonito in 2014 they toured the world, playing everywhere from arenas to “an old folks’ home once” with a brand of bubbly, polished pop that takes on peculiar topics that most would never think to write about, with Perry dipping between English and Japanese seamlessly throughout. Who doesn’t want to know what it would be like to live your life as a pet fish?
Bonito Generation brings yet more energy and displays an increased confidence since that initial compilation, beginning with alarm clocks and a weary determination to start the day. Even if you wouldn’t expect a song on this to sound happy, there’s no chance of anything morose from Kero Kero Bonito. This is a band who gave us ‘Trampoline,’ a song all about not giving up when you’ve fallen down, and one that isn’t afraid to add unexpected sounds like screeching car brakes or twinkly video game sounds. Vocally, Perry is willing to adapt her voice – in ‘Heard A Song,’ for example, she adopts a London twang as the genre experimentation flicks close to 8-bit hip hop.
Sure, you wouldn’t think songs about the difficulty of waking up in the morning or an old trampoline at the bottom of the garden could be truly captivating music. It’s quite tempting to write it off as plain old cheesy pop, even. But, with musical influences like The B-52s and Public Image Ltd, their songs are too sophisticated and delightfully eccentric for that kind of dismissive attidude. Mixing post-punk, new wave, J-pop, and electro, Bonito Generation is the most eccentric and quirky record you’ll hear this year, even though it may take two or three listens to fully appreciate for newcomers to the madness.
Bonito Generationis out now via Double Denim Records