Harnessing the aesthetics of kawaii culture and giving them a twist, CHAI's debut album PINK is a pure sugar rush that also packs more than a fleeting punch

Album Review by Eugenie Johnson | 10 Oct 2018
Album title: PINK
Artist: CHAI
Label: Heavenly Recordings
Release date: 12 Oct

Bright colours, vibrant characters and extreme levels of cuteness: kawaii culture has spread across the globe from its birthplace in Japan. The spirit of kawaii runs deeply throughout the work of CHAI, who hail from the Nagoya region. Harnessing its aesthetics and giving them a twist, their debut album PINK is a pure sugar-rush that also packs more than a fleeting punch.

Combining J-pop and punk riffs it’s instantly clear that CHAI know how to put a thoroughly infectious tune together, managing to make the minimal feel maximal. Alongside their exuberant vocals lie crunching and sometimes swirling riffs, made all the more irresistible through playful structures and hooks. Horechatta (which centres around an infatuation with gyoza) even has funk-inflected guitar lines while Fried somehow takes things up another notch by introducing waves of noisy dance-punk melodies.

PINK’s streamlined form – it stands at only six tracks long – also means that it feels like a mini-album without a hint of filler material. Even Boyz Seco Men, the longest track here at four minutes, doesn’t feel like a drag because CHAI manage to squeeze so much charm and a few twists into its seemingly more downbeat and grungy frame in that time. CHAI may lean heavily into kawaii culture but PINK proves there’s a wealth of depth beneath the cute exterior.

Listen to: Fried, N.E.O.