Time ‘n’ Place delivers on TOTEP’s promises
Jeff Lamson – Arts & Entertainment Editor
Kero Kero Bonito’s departure from their previous style comes to fruition on “Time ‘n’ Place,” but is still uniquely their own.
The first album, “Bonito Generation,” and the mixtape, “Intro Bonito,” followed a ship hop and J-pop influenced sound, with vocalist Sarah Midori Perry vocalizing in English and Japanese. These two projects were, overall, lighthearted and whimsical.
A four track EP, “TOTEP,” released in February of this year, featured a dark, rock influenced sound, with more acoustic instrumentation. The contrast was unmistakable, but welcome. A large complaint for “TOTEP,” was its disappointing length at only 11 or so minutes. But, “Time ‘n’ Place,” makes good on the ideas introduced earlier this year and even expands on them.
The strength with this album lies in how unique it is while also having catchy enough tracks to creep and keep in one’s head anytime the mind wanders. The dark undertones of sadness, anxiety and depression that creep into the lyrics and instrumentation are juxtaposed against Midori Perry’s cutesy, dreamy delivery.
Where “Bonito Generation,” follows the whimsy of youth, “Time ‘n’ Place,” operates on feelings of societal pressure and some of the emotional disconnect of getting older. Tracks like “Only Acting,” and “Dear Future Self,” send this home.
One complaint is that in the middle of the track listing, the songs begin to blend into each other. They all have unique standout moments, but if you stop paying close attention, you may miss a whole song that you meant to listen to.
Other than this tendency in the middle, the individual tracks are strong on their own and for the most part carry themselves; “Sometimes,” being a notable exception as it really feels more like an interlude, which can wear out its welcome on consecutive listening, just by how far it sticks out stylistically.
The opener, “Outside,” introduces a lot of energy to the album and some of the chip tune instrumentation makes it sound heavily influenced by Anamanaguchi.
“Time Today,” one of the singles from before the album’s release, is perhaps the catchiest track on the whole project, though it does feel shorter than one would like.
But, most of the tracks on this album are just consistently good and work especially well in the album format. Clear attention was given to the often overlooked importance of the track listing itself, or the order things play in, making the project feel deliberate and like it is more than just a collection of songs.
“Only Acting,” is just as good as it was when it came out in February, the turn it takes towards the end is still haunting, but not quite as unsettling as the album’s closer, “Rest Stop.” This track become flat-out uncomfortable to listen to in the best way. It is a sonic anxiety attack that one cannot help but bear through until its conclusion.
In the latter half of the track, Midori Perry sounds like she is singing softly behind a door, disconnected from the listener until she is suddenly cut off in the last line of the song. This move makes the whole end of the album abrupt and weighty, meaning one or more of a number of things. From a lost transmission to indicating that this is just one cross- section of a tortured mind and so on.
The darkness of the tracks, along with the album cover, make for a purposefully uncomfortable experience. The cover is a grainy, washed out photo of Midori Perry in some sort of discomfort, surrounded by colorful arts and crafts materials. There is plenty to be analyzed here.
The unique juxtaposition of the darker parts of “Time ‘n’ Place,” mixed with some of Kero Kero Bonito’s trademark catchiness, cutesiness, and sarcasm makes the project feel like a real progression, building out and expanding on ideas. Some of the simplicity in the lyricism make it all the more powerful.
Photo Credit: Dominic Alves