Album: The Sneaker Dance
Artist: Kero Kero Bonito
Label: Kero Kero Bonito Limited
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
If you’re reading reviews on the KAMP student radio website, you’re likely a musically literate college student with a flair for the alternative, so you probably don’t need me to tell you who Kero Kero Bonito is, but I’ll do it anyway. Kero Kero Bonito (KKB) is a British indie pop band fronted by Sarah Midori Perry (stage name Sarah Bonito), who first emerged in 2014. Since the hyperpop genre has exploded in recent years, KKB has only mounted in popularity, and has come to be associated with acts like 100gecs. I have a hard time defining KKB as hyperpop for some reason. Maybe it’s because I started listening to them before that term entered the lexicon. But it could also be because musically, KKB has been all over the map.
Their first few albums—Intro Bonito and Bonito Generation were pure, distilled bubblegum pop, delighting listeners with bouncy electro tunes that reverberated in your head for days. In 2018, they took a hard right turn into the lofi/shoegaze space with Time ‘n’ Place, trading innocent pop songs about the color and nostalgia of childhood for distorted explorations on performativity and broken dreams. 2021’s Civilization was a dreamy techno prance through a fairytale, and more in line with the band’s new sound. I always admire when a band is able to completely reinvent themselves and deliver something totally new, and I loved the new direction established by Time ‘n’ Place. At the same time, I missed the old days, and it seemed to me like the KKB of 2014 was gone for good. And then The Sneaker Dance came out.
KKB’s latest single The Sneaker Dance sounds like it was taken directly off of Bonito Generations. It’s wild, eclectic electropop, delivering the color and frenzy of a little girl’s glitter-soaked tea party. It tells the story of a squirrel, crocodile, and bracefaced dog dancing the sneaker dance. It’s incredible.
Sarah Bonito’s soft, lilty voice takes on the friendly cadence it had in songs like Trampoline, departing from the recent trend of distortion (and in some cases, full-on death metal screaming) that featured in Time ‘n’ Place. Soundboard antics and sampled sound effects like lasers and cheering are also back, and as chaotic as ever. This is a song that literally commands you to dance, and you have no choice but to abide.
The Sneaker Dance is apparently a collaboration with the new Kerwin Frost Adidas collection, which I only realized as I was writing this. Kero Kero Bonito is no stranger to collaborations and tie-ins—they wrote the theme song for the Playstation game Bugsnax, which similarly went hard. It's refreshing to see a band take a brand collaboration and deliver a genuinely great song, rather than phoning it in.
I’m interested in what this single means for the band’s direction as a whole. Can we expect another album returning to the band’s whimsical, childlike roots? How will new listeners who got hooked on the more self-serious, shoegaze sound react to it? Is Sarah Bonito free Friday night, and if so, would she like to go out with me? Questions abound, but one thing is certain: I will be dancing the sneaker dance for days to come.
Reviewer’s Name: John Konrad
Date of Review: 12/9/2021