“Rise and shine, it’s party time/ eat your breakfast and you’ll be fine!” sings Sarah Midori Perry on Waking Up. Perry is the endlessly endearing Brit/J-pop face of London trio Kero Kero Bonito, and largely the reason why their debut record pins you down and plasters a big ol’ cheesy grin on your face from start to finish.
What KKB do is boil down pop to the rudimentary, often taking playground melodies and spinning them in a way Lily Allen used to do. Sure, at times it borders on infantile – “today’s my graduation, I’ve done my dissertation,” is a line on Graduation that evokes both a ‘wtf’ giggle but also a bit of applause for the fact that it wears that level innocence in a world – both pop and wider – that desperately needs it.
So Bonito Generation is pure kaleidsocopic pop confection, almost cloying but never boring. There are certainly elements of future growth: the production does also occasionally take a slightly more raucous turn on songs like Fish Bowl, employing a hit of heady guitar, and the high-energy dance of Trampoline and the 8-bit club banger Lipslap. And on songs like Big City they get it so damn right, and that mainly comes back once again to the employment of Ms Perry.
The thing is, a lot of KKB’s charm comes through Perry’s bi-lingual code-switching, and the band are arguably more effective (and memorable) when they let her run rampant in full-pelt nihongo. We’d happily listen to a full album of chaste J-pop jams with Perry at the helm, but until the band are bold enough to do that we’ll settle for being part of Bonito Generation. Will it sounded dated in a year? Probably, but this a place where rhymes and melodies run free with the naivety of hyperactive toddlers, and one whose primary-colour brushstrokes are so broad that we’re happy to nestle here if only to feel less jaded by what everyone else is doing.