Polyvinyl Record Company (2019) US
The sophomore full-length from Kero Kero Bonito, Time ‘n’ Place is an album ineffably shaped by the subconscious. Lead singer and chief lyricist Sarah Bonito (who was raised in the suburbs on the Japanese island Hokkaido) found herself rattled in recent years by recurring images in her dreams: a water park from when she was little, a hallway in her primary school. After those dreams started, she also received an unexpected photo from her brother: a picture of a plot of bare land that once held her childhood home, the house now demolished. (“I felt like I’d lost something, even though I didn’t know I needed it,” she says.) And in another heartbreak for Sarah, 2017 saw the death of her beloved childhood pet, a boy budgie named Nana whom she received soon after moving to the UK at age 13.
Within the cartography of Time ‘n’ Place, the most important space is the suburbs, an aspect of their shared past that KKB find infinitely formative. As kids, each member quickly learned the need to invent their own wildness and excitement, embracing misfit status in a place where any form of self-expression could be seen as aberrant. That iconoclastic spirit has carried over to KKB’s current role in the musical landscape, with Time ‘n’ Place partly conceived as a reaction against the sterility of playlist culture. It’s a sublimely untidy album, anarchic but balletic in grace, music born from willful imagination and a sense of purpose best captured in the band’s own words: “More than ever music needs to be set free, because it can be anything, so we just decided to do whatever the fuck we wanted.”