- 16 Apr 20
A near-perfect offering from Pop music’s next big thing.
Rina Sawayama’s eponymous, debut full-length album, released via Dirty Hit (a label best known for housing The 1975), is a bona fide rollercoaster ride. SAWAYAMA plays with technology and genre, whiplashing to and fro between trappy R&B numbers like ‘Akasaka Sad’, and ‘STFU!’ – a nu-metal by way of bubblegum pop offering which simultaneously screams and sparkles.
The 13-track album from the Japanese-Londoner is stuffed to the brim with unrelenting bops like this – it feels almost masochistic to listen to, like she’s hitting you over the head with every breathtaking track. A delightful way to be beaten, to be sure.
‘Who’s Gonna Save U Now’ is manufactured for an arena – perhaps a foreshadowing of what Sawayama is destined for – and placed at a point on the album when it seems remarkable that she could have so much energy still to offer. Opening to a virtual crowd chanting “Rina!” over and over, one can almost see flames shooting from the imaginary stage she’s on.
It would be reductive to call her the Asian Britney Spears – although the album certainly contains elements of late-’90s pop, most prominent in the melody line of ‘XS’. If you misinterpret this by writing it off as just another pop album, it’s your own fault. It’s intensely personal, a chronicle of her struggles as an immigrant, her complex family history, and growing up with depression. This is Pop with a capital ‘P’, but it feels cataclysmic and infused with the gritty rock ‘n’ roll of Sawayama’s real-life.