Kero Kero Bonito ‘Time ‘n’ Place’

Kero Kero Bonito
KKB retain some electropop on ‘Time ‘n’ Place’, but to help themselves appear more integral, it’s less computerized, more ‘no wave’ synth pop-esque, with performances that come from a human touch
Lyrical Content
Overall Impact
Reader Rating3 Votes

Upbeat and high-flying, 2016’s ‘Bonito Generation’ introduced a larger audience to the exultant computer pop of Kero Kero Bonito. Fronted by Sarah Midori Perry, and backed up by her pals Jamie Bulled and Gus Lobban, the group, while bordering on novelty, is reputable in its sugariness, with its well-built electropop dynamic, occasional Japanese rapping, and quirky real-life narratives. However, as hinted by recent EP ‘TOTEP’, KKB don’t want to be content, they want to explore, without relying on their trademark chirpiness or computerised sound style.

That’s where ‘Time ‘n’ Place’ comes in, with expansive arrangements, ranging from noise pop to multi-instrumental layers to straight garage rock, and a whole lotta reflection, this is where cloud nine pops, with Sarah being brought back down to Earth – but at least her newfound self-awareness leads to self-assurance.

‘TOTEP’ sparked a spotlight by suddenly tearing up everything the listener thought they knew about Kero Kero Bonito, with the trio surprisingly turning into a rock band. There was a décor-snubbing, unwashed quality to this change, one that continues in places on ‘Time ‘n’ Place’, straight away in fact, with opening track ‘Outside’. The guitar and drums duke it out with the lack of repent you’d expect from a hardcore outfit, and EP favourite ‘Only Acting’ reappears to once again kick some rock n roll ass.

KKB retain some electropop on ‘Time ‘n’ Place’, but to help themselves appear more integral, it’s less computerized, more ‘no wave’ synth pop-esque, with performances that come from a human touch. ‘If I’d Known’ includes synthesizers plucked straight from mid ‘70s funk, and the fuzzy buzzing of ‘Visiting Hours’ is so sweet on the ears, but ‘Make Believe’ might be the most expert execution of pure synth loveliness on ‘Time ‘n’ Place’, lavish and thoughtful, with only the occasional sprinkle here and there, to act as a likeable counter balance to the aggressive rock rhythms that sometimes appear.

‘Sometimes’ is a singalong ditty, childlike and helpful, like an impromptu musical number from Rainbow, sans Zippy and Bungle, and ‘Dear Future Self’ transitions from choral “oohs” to a massive renaissance-like arrangement, completing KKB’s barrage of mature, alternative sound styles, certifying their growth and evolution.

The way the reflective narrative of ‘Time ‘n’ Place’ flows turns it into at least somewhat of a concept album. There are rocky beginnings, with ‘Time Today’ questioning one’s own mental state, and ‘Flyway’ displaying Sarah’s desire to do as birds do, and migrate, going away for a while. Eventually, optimism sets in, still with glimpses of uncertainty, as life is all about uncertainty – Sarah has a heart-to-heart with herself on ‘Dear Future Self’, comes to accept her vulnerabilities on ‘Sometimes’, and starts to form a path heading forward on ‘Swimming’, before stopping herself from completing the final line of ‘Rest Stop’ (“as the trumpets echo around, you don’t wanna be…”), embracing the unpredictability and guesswork of life.

Given the popularity of ‘Bonito Generation’, not many people felt Kero Kero Bonito were in need of a creative or conceptual leap forward, and they probably weren’t, but that doesn’t make ‘Time ‘n’ Place’ any less necessary or impactful.

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