By Kiah Easton, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Only Acting”, “Make Believe”, “Dear Future Self”
Kero Kero Bonito is back with Time ‘n’ Place, their debut album on Polyvinyl Records. Only their second full-length album, they have taken an impressively-daring departure from their recognizable and catchy electropop, j-pop and hip-hop cross that propelled them into musical relevancy on their last record, Bonito Generation. Their latest EP, TOTEP, brought a surprising new indie/alt rock sound, and Time ‘n’ Place follows suit in part, while also doing an excellent job of preserving the personality fans have come to love.
Read More: Album Review: Kero Kero Bonito – TOTEP
The project starts with “Outside”, which confirms their continuation of the gritty sounds displayed in TOTEP. Heavily-distorted guitar and synths, as well as a classic-rock-influenced drum pattern throughout, create the punch that lifts the album off its feet. Sarah Midori Perry, with ease, lays down her trademark youthful vocals despite the change in pace.
Although recycled from TOTEP, “Only Acting” remains a defining track in the group’s sonic history. The infectiously catchy vocal melodies combined with their newfound grittiness bridges the gap from their previous works effortlessly. The distorted guitar melodies nail the classic indie rock sound while still uniquely adhering to Kero Kero Bonito’s cutesy fun style. The track ends with a no-nonsense experimental breakdown devolving into harsh noise that is anything but cute. This track clearly makes the statement “yeah we make pop but we can get freaky with it”.
If you thought the innocence and youthful lyrical content would disappear with their electro-pop vibes, “Make Believe” will show you otherwise. Synthesizer arpeggios combined with a few cute bloops and bleeps set a lighthearted, sentimental mood that Sarah’s vocals work to reinforce. “All my life I tried to find the time to make believe / But now as certain as the seasons I know real life will get in between / If I never get to decide my reality / At least I see how it could be when I get round to sleeping, dreaming / Works for me.” Once again, KKB presents the theme of growing older while holding on to a childlike respect for the world. Especially as their music careers take off and the stress of life piles on, it’s important to take a step back and “Make Believe” once and awhile.
“Dear Future Self” continues to explore the difficulties of growing older and finding direction. The composition feels epic and emotional with acapella base notes and a selection of ethereal strings. The track opens wide with the introduction of several deep big band drums, leaving space for Sarah to open a dialogue with her future self. Within the dialogue, she expresses her feelings about becoming older and fearing the uncertainty and immanence of the future. Despite her successful music career, she recognizes the fact that “No one knows where they really want to go”. Veering from the colorful optimism on Bonito Generation she includes the lines “but I heard all the years’ll leave you hurt. Everyone you love disappears and nothing works. Please don’t say you hate the world, I hope that I won’t,” projecting her fears in one of the rawest and vulnerable, KKB kind of ways.
Time ‘n’ Place does not disappoint, even after such a high bar set by Bonito Generation. It is apparent not only through the compositions but through the lyrical content that the band has matured with their success, and it has brought them in a new but equally gratifying direction. The band’s ability to apply their unadulterated creativity to new styles of music casts a bright light on their future in the music industry. With another full album worth of experience under the trio’s belt, it will be interesting to see what direction they take their talent in next.