sun 24/10/2021

Kero Kero Bonito, Heaven review - euphoric bubblegum | reviews, news & interviews

Kero Kero Bonito, Heaven review - euphoric bubblegum

Kero Kero Bonito, Heaven review - euphoric bubblegum

Feel-good electropop taking on climate change and visions of peace

Where Bromley meets Tokyo: a first post-pandemic London appearance for Kero Kero Bonito

Here comes the bride. True to Kero Kero Bonito’s unique musical and visual style, a chaotic but masterfully executed fusion of Japanese kawaii culture, kaleiodoscopic synth and indie rock, the audience at Heaven were greeted by lead singer Sarah Midori Perry entering in a wedding dress complete with bridesmaid, while instrumentalists Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled both played the part of disaffected ushers behind their synth decks.

Perry’s veil was lifted to the backdrop of the band’s new logo in the Aztec font of their latest, psychedelically inflected album, Civilisation.

The album’s opening number “Battle Lines” served as an apocalyptic curtain-raiser, to visuals of exploding cities, natural disasters and general havoc. The grim lyrics – “war is always on” – felt on point while making a surreal juxtaposition with Perry’s explosively cheerful vigour, wedding dress and the dance antics of Lobban and Bulled. Who else could make a catchy number out of climate change, such as “When the fires come”? And who else would follow it with a song about playing too many videogames?

The meta-cynicism of “Lipslap” ("Can't believe I have to rap on tracks so you get it") had the crowd bouncing before they got what they were waiting for: the euphoric bubblegum of “Flamingo” which went viral back in 2016. By this point, Perry was more high priestess than bride, radiating energy through her trademark flip-flop between English and Japanese rap, throwing hand shapes for every word, orchestrating the audience. They responded to “Flamingo” in a childlike kawaii-frenzy, toy flamingos held aloft, shrimps and rainbows everywhere.

With Perry’s jungle-explorer outfit, “It's Bugsnax” brought a change of costume but not upbeat mood, upping the viral load of both music and largely maskless audience with the band’s instant-hit entry into the gaming-soundtrack market. “Body Building” is new but already feels like classic KKB, an anthem in the making. The whiplash rhythm of “Burn Rubber” made a touching, show-must-go-on tribute to Sophie, the singer-songwriter who fell to her death in a tragic accident in January.

The set took on an obvious air of finality with the end of Civilisation. “Well Rested” is a seven-minute epic of new mysticism for which Perry, back in wedding dress, was joined by six more figures in white, inviting everyone else in Heaven to join in with “And we will be well rested/When the ascension comes”. A swirling fade of bells and sampled space-dust accompanied her ritual departure on a stretcher, carried off by Lobban and Bulled to stunned silence. Sending us out on a high, however, they returned for a delirious encore of “Trampoline”. No one right now does bouncing, head-in-the-clouds bliss quite like KKB.

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