Chai - Punk


What it "punk" means to Americans can be quite different from what it means to the Japanese. Punk in itself is a reaction against social norms, a bucking of trends for more fruitful artistic pastures. It's from that idea that Chai form. It's very Grimes-esque, but that is explained more as Grimes borrowing from their aesthetic than they borrowing from hers. This feels like a natural progression from the bubblegum pop style that you find throughout Japanese culture. Bright colors, bright cartoons and even brighter expressions are all part of a very distinct Japanese aesthetic. These serve as the bones of Chai's music, especially on this new album. Underneath the driving bass, forceful drums and distorted guitars there are these bright little gentle songs that could almost be for kids. Then however, Chai shift gears, ratchet up the distortion, affect the vocals and suddenly we have something really new and exciting. A mix of super bright bubblegum pop and post-disco that will have you either grooving along or banging your head. You make think from this description that melodic might be out the window but songs like "Wintime" have great little beats that have you bopping right along. They find this really great balance of sunshine and edge that keeps you both interested and feeling alive. Typically with this kind of music you get super short songs, but Chai keep the runtimes pretty standard which gives the songs some room to breathe and dials back the urgency a bit.

The synths come blasting in on "This is Chai", one of the best tracks of the album. It's aggressive and cutting without completely ditching their style. "Fashionista" does something similar but with raw instrumentation. The bassist is a fucking star on this album driving everything with super clean and deep basslines. These tracks sort of come out of nowhere and hit you squarely over the head. So much of this record is exciting and gives you this wonderful buzz. The band easily shift gears between bloghaus and post-disco then back again. Even if you don't know what they are saying, you can pick up the vibe because they make it so clear with their sound.  There is so much to like about this album and band. I can't wait until I get to check them out live and watch them blow everything away.

8.8 out of 10


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