Album Review: Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA


After her 2017 EP release on possibly the most talked about indie label of the moment, Dirty Hit, Rina Sawayama is back with a full length, 13 track album of genre hopping bangers with influences ranging from nu-metal to early 2K pop and R&B.  

Sawayama’s influences seem to come from just about anywhere and is likely best described as the acts of a magpie picking and choosing aspects of different genres with reckless abandon with a particular penchant for the Early 2000s. In particular its pop which can be heard lathered across her original EP and across much of this album, XS would fit right into an early Britney or Pussycat dolls album while also adding noisey guitar motifs throughout, adding a unique flair to a great rendition of the genre. The album then flies off in an entirely different direction with STFU being a Poppy esque combination of pop sensibilities and nu-metal riffs on drop tuned guitars with lyrics based around the theme of microaggressions both towards her personally and other minority groups which is very much hammered in by its accompanying music video. 

Other highlights include Tokyo love hotel, a synth pop ballad and the longest song on an album emblematic of the 3 minute pop song rule. Who’s gonna save you now? Is heavy rock with an undeniable heabanging energy, even if behind its impenetrable level of pomp and circumstance it reminds me of the unique cheese of bands like Europe, I would not be surprised if she gets a slot at Download. 

Production on this album is nothing to write home about, it does its job and it has the sheen of polish seen across the pop industry but her other contemporaries such as Poppy certainly seem to do a better job of the genre meld. It’s flittering between genres like a hyper kid in a playground does not take away from any song in particular, but it does give the impression of this being more of a compilation of great singles instead of a project with a cohesive narrative whether musically or lyrically. 

Though I say that this is not a bad album, in fact it’s great. You don’t need groundbreaking production or a particular sense of genre consistency for an album to be good and there is not a single dud in its 43 minute run time. As a debut album it’s catchy and so diverse that it would be hard for someone to not find at least something to love and I do appreciate the sudden turn to romanticising the early 2000s. The albums It’s worth the runtime and it’s worth your time too.  

She also has close to the coolest logo of any artist at this moment.

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