An exceptional, nigh-on flawless debut album...

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. It’s a fitting ode to that period: the album’s inspiration comes mostly from Rina’s experiences with growing up, family and identity.

Rina’s vocal presence is just as impressive as the album's genre span. Across the 13 track span of 'Sawayama' you’ll hear the powerful tones of a woman whose passion and fierceness is undeniable - never more than in uplifting tracks such as ‘Love Me 4 Me’ and ‘Chosen Family’.

The tracks ‘Akasaka Sad’ and ‘Paradisin’ specifically explore those memories of growing up between two places (for Rina, Japan and the UK) and the conflicting emotions that must come with that challenge, the first being about feeling displaced wherever in the world, and ‘Paradisin’ honing in on rebelling against authority, AKA… mum.

Although ‘Sawayama’ is a deeply personal album, the range of emotions portrayed throughout can be felt and personalised by anyone. The use of heavy metal, theatrics, synth and pop each have their hand in portraying so many varied emotions - from anger to guilt, confusion to elation. Each of these layers add to the melting pot, and these tough emotions have ultimately contributed to the creation of a flawless pop record.

Raw artistry paired with rich heritage makes for a magnificent, spine-tingling first album for Rina Sawayama.

9/10

Words: Laura Copley

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