ALBUM OF THE MONTH: SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama (July 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Dynasty; XS; STFU!; Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys); Akasaka Sad; Paradisin; Love Me 4 Me; Bad Friend; Fuck The World (Interlude); Who’s Gonna Save You Now?; Tokyo Love Hotel; Chosen Family; Snakeskin; Tokyo Takeover

Renowned for his encyclopaedic pop knowledge and his hits-filled back catalogue plundered in last year’s film Rocketman, none other than Elton John last month named this the ‘strongest album of the year this far’.

  • Read on for reasons including why you should get ready to fall in love with SAWAYAMA

We’re here because resurgent blog Like 1999 thinks Japanese-British songwriter and model Sawayama is our ‘new favourite artist’ and on closer inspection we think she just might be.

Her first solo EP was released in 2017 but our introduction is 1 of 5 singles, XS (watch below), and what we’re enjoying is the epic pop chorus married with beautiful melodies but also hard rock guitar and kettle drums. What elevates it further is that rather than a traditional R&B enthusiasm for ‘gimme just a little bit more’ we think there’s more than a little irony at play here.

STFU! is from this debut album released in April. It could be Nirvana with its head-down, nu-metal riff but that slightly maniacal laughter means that Sawayama’s clearly making it her own dropping in a little ornate melody. ‘Have you ever thought about taping your big mouth shut? Because I have many times, many times’, she sings.

Comme des Garçons (Like The Boys) sounds like an early 00s floorfiller with a threatening ‘Don’t fuck with me ho, Take you down like judo’ message.

Paradisin’ and Bad Friend have choruses so expansive and inviting that they could be Taylor Swift in their ambition. The former boasts a ridiculous saxophone which surrenders to a late key change and fans of the late flourish ratcheting things up a notch will find much to enjoy here.

Who’s Gonna Save You Now? is another standout track and sounds like a big radio American rock hit from the 80s by an act like Bon Jovi.

We’re still attuning our ears to the lyrics but in our mind capitalising your surname as your debut album album title, opening with a track called Dynasty and naming another late on Chosen Family with a ‘We don’t need to be related to relate’ refrain speaks of a theme we can get onboard with. Final track Snakeskin also seems to concern itself with rebirth.

We feel like we caught an early glimpse of Sawayama last year on Charli XCX’s tour but didn’t write about it  in the same way that an excellent Florence and the Machine gig would have been crowned had we not missed Billie Eilish as her support.

No matter, Covid-19 permitting, we plan to see Sawayama on tour at Electric Brixton in September. Tickets Elton’s ‘strongest album of the year this far’ label reminds of one of his hits: Are You Ready For Love? Because one listen and you’ll fall for SAWAYAMA.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Rina Sawayama Tickets
  • Have you seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook


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