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Kero Kero Bonito
Totep Aimee Armstrong , February 19th, 2018 14:51

PC Music affiliates take an unexpected turn

It’s hard not to group Kero Kero Bonito within the algorithm of hypersensationalised pop music from the PC Music label. The group’s 2016 record ,Bonito Generation, ticks most of the boxes on the hypothetical checklist. The pristine imagery and production, vibrant visuals and childlike vocals already confirm this, but it should be mentioned that KKB member Gus Lobban is signed to PC Music under the pseudonym Kane West.

The band create whimsical and at times absurd pop music, littered with references to the dance music of the 90s and 00s, with songs about jumping on trampolines, taking breaks and thanking your pets in your graduation speech. Despite their affiliation with PC Music, they have always seemed inherently different to artists like GFOTY, Hannah Diamond and AG Cook, perhaps due to their less in-your-face approach to production and their seemingly wider palette of influences – they take as much from Japanese pop music as they do from the B-52’s or X-Rey Spex.

This latest EP sees them venture beyond their bubblegum electronic origins into a space between shoegaze and pop punk. Darker lyrical themes and a relatively lo-fi sound set it as a musical inversion of the group's repertoire. ‘Only Acting’, the centrepiece of the project, follows a narrative not dissimilar to that of Satoshi Kon’s 1997 anime Perfect Blue, both tackling a performer's almost unhealthy devotion to their trade. Sarah Bonito sings. “I thought I was only acting, but I felt exactly like it was all for real”. These lines relate to the harsh traumatic descent faced by Mima, the film’s protagonist. The song in itself is almost a horror movie jump scare when the third iteration of the chorus is slashed short by a burst of harsh noise, a detour which sonically articulates the songs lyrical themes.

The aptly titled ‘Cinema’ continues, building upon the connection with the film medium, this time from the other side of the screen, as Sarah seeks solace in a secluded theatre. ‘You Know How It Is’ is the most conventional track, with instrumentation that sounds a lot like Dinosaur Jr’s ‘Freak Scene’. While it seemed unlikely, this unexpected shift in Kero Kero Bonito’s trajectory has topped the band's previous output, cementing them as one of the most interesting pop groups of the decade.