Apr 30, 2020
It appears that evidently the millennial era has formally reached the purpose of nostalgia for the music of their youth. To this point in 2020, now we have seen pop auteurs corresponding to Poppy and Grimes going again to the sounds of the early 2000s and recontextualizing them for at present. In some methods, the debut full-length album from Rina Sawayama falls into this mildew with sounds that reference nu metallic, Brittney Spears-era pop, and Timbaland’s R&B manufacturing. But Sawayama goes even additional by taking these nostalgic touchstones and imbuing them along with her personal heritage, persona, and experiences, leading to a totally contemporary and trendy voice on this planet of pop.
The affect of the Y2K pop charts on Sawayama turns into readily obvious early on within the album. The opener, “Dynasty” begins on shimmering pop however throws in blasts of mosh pit prepared guitars that recall Evanescence whereas Sawayama herself shows a powerhouse vocal efficiency. Though it might be her first studio album, “Dynasty” proves Sawayama is already stadium prepared. Later, “STFU!” additional explores this nu metallic type, bringing Korn-esque guitar riffs to the forefront. Simply when the anger within the lyrics boils over into the refrain, it turns right into a pop kiss-off. Sawayama places the tune’s racist topic of their place, coyly instructing them to “Shut the fuck up.” Sawayama brings these influences along with trendy manufacturing touches, usually courtesy of Clarence Readability, such because the entice flavoring on “Snakeskin” or Carley Rae Jepsen type synth pop on “Dangerous Pal.”
But genre-bending pop experiments solely carry an album to this point. The true star of the album is Sawayama herself. She fills the songs right here along with her personal previous, fears, and upbringing making the album, at its greatest, unmistakably her personal. On a number of tracks, Sawayama attracts upon her Japanese heritage and expertise as an immigrant raised in London. “Akasaka Unhappy” relates her emotions of alienation in direction of Japan, whereas “Tokyo Love Resort” criticizes the fetishization of Japanese tradition by Western vacationers.
What’s extra, Sawayama on no account excuses herself from critique. “Tokyo Love Resort” additionally questions her personal relationship to Japan as somebody raised within the West, musing, “Thought I used to be unique, however in any case/I suppose that is simply one other tune ‘bout Tokyo.” Elsewhere, on “Dangerous Pal” she acknowledges her personal shortcomings and failures in her private relationships. Sawayama nonetheless retains up the joyous power that drives the album, although, hardly ever letting the tempo of the album dip low. Moreover, delicate touches all through, corresponding to “Snakeskin” interpolating the Closing Fantasy victory theme, present a nostalgic love for the tradition of the millennium that goes past simply the music.
The place the album typically falters is when Sawayama’s persona is muted. She attracts on so many chaotic influences all through that Sawayama depends upon her writing to offer it its personal identification. It does this greatest within the first half, however the second half generally falls quick. Whereas the New Jack Swing groove on “Love Me four Me” is likable, the tune comes off as an excessive amount of of a generic self-love anthem. Equally, “Chosen Household” has a soulful melody and vocal efficiency, however finally ends up crossing the road from honest to tacky. The lyrics about discovering your personal household amid wrestle come off as in the identical vein of platitude-filled empowerment ballads like Katy Perry’s “Roar” or Rachel Platten’s “Combat Tune.” Whereas the tune is definitely a lower above these tracks, it nonetheless feels missing in Sawayama’s distinctive persona and wears out its attraction considerably on repeated listens.
On Sawayama, yesteryears’ pop music turns into extra than simply some chart hits. Rina Sawayama makes use of it as a device to contextualize her reminiscences, experiences, and heritage. Taken all collectively, the album is an advanced image of Swayama’s previous, current, and future. It’s uncommon to see a debut album with such a totally realized voice and imaginative and prescient behind it. What’s extra, she exorcises her private demons amid among the 12 months’s greatest dancefloor-filling pop. (www.rina.on-line)
Creator score: 7.5/10
Price this album
Common reader score: 8/10