Album Review: Kero Kero Bonito’s “Time ‘n’ Place”
Written by Graham Jeffe on October 21, 2018
Kero Kero Bonito is a London-based J-Pop trio that have been making waves by releasing some of the most fun and catchy pop of the decade. On their first two releases, Intro Bonito (2014) and Bonito Generation (2016), the group delivered bouncy, lighthearted ear-candy paired with simple, relatable themes like waking up in the morning, and even just doing your homework. But, Sarah Bonito and the gang throw us a left-hook with this new release. Instead of playing it safe and giving us another J-Pop release, the band experiments with some other genres on Time ‘n’ Place. This change in direction wasn’t completely unexpected, as the band released the TOTEP EP, which ultimately was KKB testing the waters for the indie sound to see if it would work. That EP was a tad bit underwhelming, but this new album is anything but that. This album, Time ‘n’ Place, takes what TOTEP tried, polishes it, and adds influences from everything from MY BLOODY VALENTINE, to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The album kicks off with the song “Outside” which has Sarah Bonito singing over shoegaze-esque guitars, completely setting the album apart from anything the group has done from the very start. Bonito’s vocals, as always, sound as if she is singing through an ear-to-ear smile, giving the song an infectious good mood. The band sticks with this mood up until the song “Dump” the calmest song KKB has ever put out. At first, this was a low-point on the album, but after several listens, the song provides a much needed break from the non-stop energy of the first four songs.
Another highlight is the song “If I’d Known” where the group pulls influence from The Beatles, of all bands. The head-bopping instrumental is led by a very 60s guitar progression, even breaking into a guitar solo that seems stripped right out of the intro song to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But this is far from the most unexpected direction the group goes in with this album. That award goes to the song “Something.” This song is definitely the strangest entry in the KKB discography, sounding like a pub full of drunk and happy Brits singing along with Bonito, as she ensures the listener that everything with be alright. The most surprising thing about the song is that it actually goes over extremely well, and is legitimately encouraging.
That brings me to the most important element to this album: its emotional core. Every song on this album tugs at the heartstrings and has made me cry at least once. KKB seems to have a way of doing that. Whether it be the uplifting internal conversation on “Dear Future Self” or the reflection on on death and mental illness on “Time Today” every cut on the album has lyrics to dive into and analyze.
One criticism I have of the album is the last track, “Rest Stop”. While the first half of the song is great, bringing back the roaring guitars from “Outside” and “Flyway”, the second half is an underwhelming breakdown, only having a minimalist instrumental with Bonito singing over it. It leaves the album off on a sour note, even ending in the middle of a sentence. Obviously the group did all of this on purpose, but that doesn’t make it a satisfying end. The song “Dear Future Self” would have been a perfect ending. But hey, we can’t change that now.
Overall the album is a great example of how a band’s songwriting abilities can lend itself to multiple different genres. With this album, KKB prove to be anything but a one-trick pony, and in fact are beginning to create a diverse discography. Whatever the future holds for the group, whether that be going back to their J-Pop influences, staying with the indie rock sound, or trying something completely new, I’m sure they will be able to pull it off.