London’s Heavenly Recordings reissue a long overdue j-pop classic by four-piece kawaii-overloaders CHAI. PINK was first released as long ago as February 2018 by Burger Records, so it’s great to see it available once again, uh, on this side of the pond. The band’s brief, energetic songs explore pop culture at its most excessive and materialistic, and of course it’s strangely compelling.
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Chai are cute and they’re proud of it. The four-piece of two identical twins and two close fiends from Nagoya, Japan are committed to it. It’s their ideology, their aesthetic and their colour palette. You only need to look at the song names like ‘Hi Hi Baby’ and ‘She is Kitty’ to guess that. And why shouldn’t they be?
Pink is their debut release on Heavenly Recordings, the 6 track mini-album presumably serving as a kind of introduction to music fans outside of Japan. And consider me introduced. From the opening cowbell groove on ‘Hi Hi Baby’, all the way through to the end, Chai consistently succeed in their mission. Theirs is a slick garage rock sound which is augmented by saccharine vocal melodies to make something infectiously fun.
They’re also more than capable of veering off into other directions. ‘Boyz Seco Men’ is the cutest noise rock jam you’ll hear all year, and ‘Fried’, which features the powerfully relatable line “fried = soul”, is a manic disco banger built around an addictive funky bassline. They even turn things town a bit on the slow-jammy ‘Horechatta’. Whatever they’re doing, Pink is filled to the brim with personality and charm.
For me, as someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, the highlight was probably the gang-sung English chorus on N.E.O. Together than band shout “You! Are! So! Cute! Nice! Face! Come on! Yeah!”, inviting the listener to feel cute with them. And let me tell you, it’s nice to feel cute.
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