Instagram, hearing a catchy song on the radio, trampolines, waking up — the list of subjects covered on ‘Bonito Generation’, the debut album from Kero Kero Bonito, looks remarkably trivial. When you then realise they’re a trio heavily influenced by the lurid sounds of J-Pop, you’d be forgiven for giving this one the swerve.
Yet to do so would be an enormous error — ‘Bonito Generation’ is likely to be the most fun album you’ll hear all year. The production is disarmingly joyous and, thanks to a predilection for early ‘90s dance, some of the tracks here are absolute bangers. ‘Big City’ races along, fizzing with glee, and ‘Trampoline’ manages to capture the giddy, child-like feeling of, yes, jumping up and down on a trampoline.
‘Bonito Generation’ pulls off a neat trick by being a varied album whose individual tracks are all still unmistakably KKB. There are drum machines, and synths abound, not to mention front-woman Sarah Midori Perry’s signature move of at least one half-spoken Japanese rap per song. ‘Picture This’, a seemingly simple song about taking pictures, reveals itself to be a commentary on how our constant need to document everything prevents us from living in the moment. The bass and handclap-heavy ‘Graduation’ critiques the education system (“I didn’t learn a thing anyway”), and the easy groove of ‘Break’ advocates taking time out from your busy schedule — perhaps the first ever mindfulness anthem.
What this all means is that there are four stages of ‘Bonito Generation’.
1. You hear a J-Pop album
2. You realise it’s a very, very good J-Pop album
3. With repeated listens, you realise there’s a huge amount going on beneath the surface
4. You become a fully paid-up member of the Bonito Generation, 2016’s most uplifting movement.
Words: Joe Rivers
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