Kero Kero Bonito – Bonito Generation (2016)
Signed with: Double Denim / Sony Music
Genre: Electro Pop/Indie Pop
It may be a bit late to review this album, but I had to share my love (and obsession) for one of my favorite albums of 2016. After a good start with their debut mixtape Intro Bonito, and their stellar single Flamingo, London electropop/indie pop group Kero Kero Bonito came up with the excellent debut studio album Bonito Generation.
This record is basically a weird mixture of electro and synthpop production with a bit of trap, J-pop and hip hop influences, combined with a childish sense of wonder and joy. Jamie Bulled (aka Wharfwhit) and Gus Lobban (aka Kane West, Augustus) provide the production and some instrumentation to these mostly electronic and upbeat tracks, while vocalist Sarah Midori Perry (aka Sarah Bonito) sings and raps (albeit in a simpler, golden era-rap style) in both Japanese and English, often alternating between the two.
The lyrics talk about everyday struggles and joys in the life of an independent adult, though seen with the sense of wonder and the playfulness of a child. The music ranges from the classic hip-hop influenced Waking Up, a track about how hard (and essential) it is to wake up early and face life, to the electro track Lipslap, a song about telling someone to stop talking trash and just enjoy the music, and the trap influenced Graduation, about graduating from school, learning nothing in the process, and becoming part of the system (in a satirical tone).
Aside from the great beats, fun lyrics, and overall cohesive sound, the greatest praise for this record is the sense of fun and joy that is largely absent from today’s mainstream pop scene. KKB’s aesthetic is influenced by J-pop artists and feels like it could fit right in on children’s programming, but is never too cheesy or too far removed from the everyday hustle of an adult.
On the negative side, it does feel like most of the more downbeat cuts are located towards the end of the album (the B-side, perhaps?). These songs, like Picture This, a song about taking pictures and reminiscing on the past, Hey Parents, about keeping in touch with your parents after moving out, and Paintbrush, a clever short interlude in Japanese with little reprises of other songs in the record, are still pretty good but mess with the album’s momentum a little bit. As a possible negative, the overall tone of this record may be too childish or too weird for some people. I highly encourage you to let your prejudices behind and just enjoy the album.
The highlights of the album are: Heard a Song, Graduation, Fish Bowl and Trampoline.
10/10 – Amazing record.
Listen to the Album (It’s a Playlist):