Kero Kero Bonito, “Civilisation II”

Kero Kero Bonito
Civilisation II
POLYVINYL
7/10 

Listening to the work of certain artists scratches the pandemic-induced itch to dash to the club and dance with strangers—Kero Kero Bonito is one of them. The London-based art-pop band’s most recent EP, Civilisation II—a sequel to their preceding Civilisation I EP, which came out in September 2019—bursts with pent-up energy. The trio, consisting of Sarah Midori Perry (Sarah Bonito), Gus Lobban, and Jamie Bulled are known for their genre-bending sound that mixes J-pop, video-game-esque effects, and silky, youthful vocals. Like Civilisation I, the three-track EP was entirely produced and recorded in Lobban’s bedroom, and, as stated by Polyvinyl Records, each song progresses through the different tenses of past, present, and future.

The EP opens with “The Princess and the Clock,” a colorful and fast-paced song that, according to the band, details the kidnapping, imprisonment, and idolization of a young explorer who dreams of escape. The song was written pre-COVID, but its themes of isolation remain as relevant as ever. The track is also accompanied by a beautifully animated video illustrated by Dan W. Jacobs, which delicately unfolds the fictional story in a visual format. Right from the EP’s get-go, it’s clear the trio is unafraid to continuously push creative boundaries, whether it’s through relying only on vintage hardware to produce experimental synth sounds or crafting an enticing fairytale world out of thin air. 

On the contrary, “21/04/20” diverges from fiction and maintains a grip on the present, as it references a specific day in lockdown. Although not as explosive as “The Princess and the Clock,” “21/04/20” highlights Sarah Perry’s dreamy vocals, as she melodically brings to life details of flowers in bloom and conversations with friends. It’s a smooth intermediary between the first track’s upbeat rhythms and the more rhythmic and lengthy concluding song.

The EP closes out with the seven-minute “Well Rested,” which is a remix of the longest song they’ve ever written, “Rest Stop” from their second studio album, Time ’n’ Place. As the EP’s finale, “Well Rested” plays temporally with futuristic concepts, as the track alludes to ideas of resurrection, as well as the ambiguity of morality. It ties the EP together as the song that integrates varying beats, drum-like taps, as well as the space-y and electric sounds that are woven throughout the album. 

Kero Kero Bonito’s three-track EP comes at the perfect time, acting as a reminder of the blooming spring and a beacon of hope for a sunnier summer to come. The alt-pop trio’s youthful energy was certainly not lost through quarantine, as their refreshing Civilisation II EP solidifies the band’s unmatched eclectic and youthful spirit.

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