Kero Kero Bonito – TOTEP
The British trio, consisting of vocalist Sarah Midori Perry and producers Gus Lobban & Jamie Bulled, rose to prominence with colorful, fun pop-hop incorporating Japanese rapping, electronic production, and happy-go-lucky lyricism. However, those traits are nowhere to be found on this record, with the band instead eschewing their established style in favor of guitar-driven power pop.
Lead single “Only Acting” garnered attention earlier this month for a lo fi music video and, noisy, glitched out ending. Steady, big power chords à la Weezer meets Perry’s lamentations about losing herself in a stage persona, hinting at the motivations for the shift in style as well as providing the EP’s standout track.
However, on the rest of the record the melancholia comes off not as honest vulnerability, but more as an affectation due to rather generic lyrics and Perry’s aloof performance. Despite hints of brilliance, with the singsong chorus of “You Know How It Is” evoking the songwriting of contemporaries such as Jeff Rosenstock, something more than just synths and samples were lost in what seems to be an attempt to fit into a more popular genre.
A genre and shift in tone is hardly out of the question for the band, with one of their peers, Crying, similarly transitioning from quirky chiptune to more traditional reflective rock without losing their core appeal.
However, as it stands, this EP is a rather lukewarm foray.
At eleven minutes long, TOTEP is likely more of an experiment than a fully fledged EP- a sampler of things likely to come later this year. While KKB may want to distance themselves from the gloss of their previous work, hopefully they’ll be able to put out something unpolished rather than half-baked.