If this summer’s Comic Con taught me anything, it’s that the twenty first century obsession with all things Japanese is not going anywhere fast. The West’s bizarre fascination with the far-off home of anime and cosplay has led to a cult following that few other cultures can hold a flame to. And so, with armies of Japanophiles ardently committing to memory the lyrics of every J-pop jingle, despite no prior knowledge of the language, what could possibly be more appealing than the whimsical bi-lingual musical musings of London-based trio Kero Kero Bonito?
Fronted by half English, half Japanese rapper Sarah Midori Perry, KKB are an intriguing bunch, creating their own genre of “body-positive cartoon flute R&B” and have, by their own admission “played at an old people’s home”. Their debut album, Bonito Generation, certainly lives up to their impressive pitch.
Balancing precariously on the fence between irritatingly chipper and unashamedly adorable, KKB are an intoxicating cocktail made up of one part Kate Nash, two parts Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, a good glug of GameBoy theme tunes and a sprinkling of Hall and Oates just for good measure. Serve all this in a rainbow high-ball with whatever flare happens to be laying on the bar-top and you’ve got one of the most unique and yet ubiquitously Millenial sounds of 2016.
Kicking off with the highly infectious ‘Waking Up’ and taking us on an electronic journey from London to Akihabara, Bonito Generation is a great introduction to this endearing little outfit. Stand-out tunes include the ridiculously ear-wormy ‘Graduation’ (the first single release from the record), as well as the up-beat dance track ‘Lipslap’.
Funky, toe-tapping midi riffs throughout, supplied by producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled, provide a great backdrop to the true star of the record, singer Sarah, seamlessly segueing between English and Japanese, her kawaii cutesiness never failing to raise a smile.
Bonito Generation isn’t an album for everyone. Indeed, for many, this could possibly be one of the most grating records since the Smurfs decided to Go Pop. But then, they aren’t the audience. This is one for the Comic Con collective. Fun, smart, and utterly enchanting, Kero Kero Bonito look set to form a loyal fanbase across the globe, and Bonito Generation is a fantastic calling card to get them started.
Bonito Generation is out from October 21st via Double Denim Records