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  • Lucas Del Rosario

Album Love Letter: Kero Kero Bonito's Bonito Generation

We’ve reached a weird point in the semester where things start to drag. Spring break has come and gone, and what lies before us is the typical, tiresome end-of-semester slog. It can be hard to stay positive, so I suggest some nourishment for your weary mind in the form of sugary, bubbly, part-English, part-Japanese bilingual electro-pop. London trio Kero Kero Bonito’s debut album Bonito Generation is a metaphorical Tums for your life-induced heartburn. The album draws influences from J-pop, city pop, hip-hop, electronic, dance, and video game music to create an album that is sweet in every sense of the word. It’s like a full season of Yo Gabba Gabba! melted down into a 36-minute pop record. The kind you might listen to while wearing a propeller hat and holding a lollipop. It’s hard to listen and not have your mood pick up at least a little bit.

The intro track, “Waking Up,” is a perfect display of both the infectious optimism and dazzling production on this album. Considering the scant hours of sleep enjoyed by many students, the lyrics might ring true: “There's so much stuff to do / Right now I just wanna snooze.” Waking up is the epitome of sudden change: going from peaceful sleep to blaring alarm sounds and the sun beaming down into your eyes. Sarah Bonito, the main vocalist and sometimes-rapper of the group, does not deny the difficulty of things, but still, she recognizes that they might be worthwhile: “Because waking up is the hardest part / But then, it's essential.” Similarly, on “Break,” the group stresses the importance of slowing down and taking time for yourself, even if it seems unnatural.

On “Graduation,” Sarah bids farewell to the “torikago”, or birdcage, of education, sarcastically gushing about supposed job prospects and potential future earnings. However, this might be a way of coping with the uncertainties accompanying major life changes: “And everyone's happy, but [I don’t want to go] / What shall I do now the world is mine?” Similarly, in “Hey Parents,” Sarah shows appreciation to her parents while realizing they were once in her position. The song emphasizes her fear of growing up: “Will I find my life / Has happened all before? / Sometimes I realize / Time's running out, and I don't know why / [But I wanna be a kid forever].”

The moments of dread don’t last forever, though, as the album remains ridiculously optimistic throughout. Sarah confidently lists off her skills and abilities on “Try Me,” which naturally includes business, dancing, and throwing a party (with you!). It might be a good one to play if you have been lacking confidence or doubting your own abilities lately: “But sometimes if I think too hard / I forget that I'm a superstar.” More than anything, the music is upbeat and eclectic, producing many moments to sway or dance to, whether on “Fish Bowl,” with its chorus of “oohs” and “ohhs” set against a background of shoegaze-y, washed-out guitar; or the enigmatic “Lipslap,” a lively house/hip-hop banger with all the typical KKB flavorings thrown on top. “Trampoline” is the song that most resembles a radio hit if you’re in need of some energy, while “Picture This” advocates taking as many pictures as you can “to show everybody you’ve ever known” and to have plenty of material to reminisce about in the future.

I commend Bonito Generation's somewhat childish nature. I don’t think Kero Kero Bonito is suggesting that you disregard emotional awareness or skirt adult responsibilities. Still, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we embraced childlike wonder every once in a while. Most importantly, the album is just plain fun. Who would we be to deprive ourselves of fun?

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