Kero Kero Bonito’s newest album, Time ‘n’ Place, may be a goodbye from the radical positivity that made the London trio so distinct and likable, but it’s still spectacular.
Surprise dropped this week, Gus, Jamie, and Sarah’s newest effort is a stark contrast to the giddy fusion of J-Pop and Hip-Hop of 2016’s Bonito Generation, a departure foreshadowed on their more recent EP, TOTEP, and create noisy, psychedelic pop rock.
The most noticeable difference is the presence live drum kits and electric basses played by Gus and Jamie, adding a pop-punk feel to the album, especially on tracks like “Flyway.” Synthetic instrumentation still remains, especially abundant on “Time Today,” but is much more textured and used more sparsely in tandem with the live instruments. Some of the songs, such as “Visiting Hours” and “Swimming,” feel less original because of this, but the blend of these instrumental styles is most exciting when they contrast each other as much as possible, especially on the absolutely insane “Only Acting,” a song filled to the brim with surprises you must hear for yourself. The loud/soft dynamic on “Rest Stop” and the Krautrock-esque chord progression on “If I’d Known” are also examples of creativity overload from the band, the latter of which features a beautifully delivered rap verse from Jamie and an orgasmic guitar solo.
The lyrics on this album are also far more complex; the simplistic, sing-along style is swapped out for considerably more emotional lyrics detailing themes such as abusive relationships, declining mental health and the fear of mortality. Sarah still keeps it (relatively) light on some songs, such as the punky “Outside” and the folksy sing along “Sometimes,” but the lyrics still feel far more mature overall.
While Time ‘n’ Place may not be the unique ecstasy that KKB’s earlier work is, the band still comes through with a wild, genre-defying release that’s anything but unwelcome.