Kero Kero Bonito Discusses Their Favorite Albums of 2021

Kero Kero Bonito have been sitting pretty low during the pandemic and the “It’s Bugsnax!” single in 2020 (from the bugsnax video game), and this year they are releasing their second Civilization EP, which was combined with the first EP from 2019 as one vinyl album. Civilization feel they are returning to synthpop land after successful experiments with shoegaze and indie rock. They just seem to get better, with a wider palette, with each new release. They also toured a bit this fall, including playing the NYC and LA editions of the “Night of Fire” parties with Arca, Eartheater, Machine Girl and more. You can listen to Civilization below.

As for what KKB was listed on this year, they sent us a list of “ten 2021 albums we love.” They write: “We haven’t tried to pick the best target or rank them because that’s not how music works, but ten we think you should hear if you haven’t, in no particular order. There are still many more we could have written about so shout out to Spirit of the Beehive, Injury Reserve, JPEGMafia, Fake Laugh & Tarquin, Rirugiliyangugili, Porter Robinson, Foodman, Kučka, Erika de Casier, Wave Racer, Spelling and much more for making magical pop music this year.” Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled of KKB commented on all 10, which you can read below and listen to their picks.


mister twin sister – To the blue world
Mr Twin Sister is in the game for all the right reasons; they first released music in 2008 and this is my favorite thing they’ve ever done. on To the blue worldl, the streamlined club deconstructions of producers like Morgan Geist and Jessy Lanza, MTS’s indie band sensibility and a casual internationalism (evidenced by its non-European scales and Spanish lyrics) sit together as if they always have. The result is refined and formally precise, but passionate and compulsive, and if you like any of the ingredients I’ve listed, you’ll probably get a lot from this record. – Gus

DJ Marcelle- Lay out the food, Bitte
Pure dance floor tracks. One of the best to do it ever and a source of infinite inspiration. – Jamie

Ceephax – Box stable
Ceephax is an electronic music legend whose hyper-specific, oft-imitated-but-never-better universe rewards research. His latest album, Box stable, makes an ideal introduction as arguably the most accessible window into his world of rave abandonment, 1980s home computer culture, hazy synth soundtracks, and the odd medieval moment. Box stable may also be Ceephax’s hottest and most club-friendly album, the well-mixed extended tracks invite club play and home immersion. My favorite moment of all is “Eurozone”, which gently conveys Ceephax’s vital humor while having a melody worthy of Larry Heard or Kraftwerk. – Gus

Dean Blunt – Black metal 2
This is my driving album at the moment – it’s beautifully produced and for me quite an emotional listening experience. Note the subtle basslines and the way Dean and Joanne Robertson weave in and out. Shout out to Kwake Bass. – Jamie

CFCF – Memoryland
Memoryland is a vaguely ghostly rundown of 1997-2001 or thereabouts, an era our generation only half remembers for PlayStation games aimed at twenty-somethings and stylized space-age MTV identities. It almost painfully evokes the era, using modern tools to fold representative electronica styles (French touch, ambient drum ‘n bass, lounge revivalism), alternative rock and more abstract soundscapes into a glossy carpet that is more alive than any pastiche. It’s not just for 90s babies, but as a 29-year-old who remembers the Concorde flying overhead and Habitat inflatable seats, Memoryland hits very hard. – Gus

Joy Orbison – still slipping full. 1
Alive, precise, futuristic and a depth that will bring you back again and again. Amazing artwork from 10 Foot too. – Jamie

Korless – Open
Koreless bid his time to make his first album and it was well worth it. Open develops the rhythmic, drumless formalism he’s explored on singles like the astonishing “TT/Love” two-tracker, drawing lines between minimalist repetition, electronic dance music styles, and advanced in/human synthesis without giving too much away. Koreless boldly magnifies the structural qualities of music we take for granted in a way that reminds me of producers like Mark Fell, distilling their power to explosive effect and locating the fold between pop and other music, leaving the rest of sees the way ahead. – Gus

Small- Harmattan
Every release of Klein is bursting with personality and it’s no different. It’s uncompromising music that always inspires and motivates me. It also features Charlotte Church! – Jamie

Perfect young lady – PYL DEMO AND …
Perfect Young Lady is intentionally obscure, although I’m pretty sure she’s a Japanese woman who makes Casio pop songs and performs them karaoke-style with light choreography, accompanied by co-front person PSG (“Perfect Support Girl”) and inspiring low-key background singers. Kitsch hypnagogic electro-pop is nothing new, but Perfect Young Lady’s vision is incredibly well-formed; the vocal harmony at the end of the chorus in “ノン・カフェイン” (“No Caffeine”) and wistful chords introducing “COLLECTION” showcase some of my favorite pop compositions for ages, which makes destroying them with awful recordings even more hilariously daring makes . That said, the arrangements are just as colorful as the compositions, and PYL keeps it fresh by using relatively unheard of keyboard sounds – no Casio SA-1 here. While I’m sure I’m losing some context in translating, I’m still amazed that the consumer culture romantic joke/tragedy of flashy bedroom pop has resonated across continents from Bromley to Tokyo. – Gus

Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World
This has been widely praised, but I want to talk about it anyway. Mercurial World is Magdalena Bay’s well-deserved breakout record, the step that took them from a mind-bogglingly specific cult appeal to international touring and high scores from both Anthony Fantano and Pitchfork. Magdalena Bay’s palette is close to (and just as polished as) corporate pop, but the difference is their genuine determination to make every song work for the listener, using refreshing jazzy chord sequences and effortlessly kinetic rhythm tracks for a powerfully straightforward effect. . This is the best kind of pop music – not just saying what pop already is, but what pop could be. – Gus


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