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Last year’s lead single STFU! gave some indication of where Rina Sawayama was heading with her long-awaited debut full-length. Its drudging guitars harked back to turn-of-the-century nu-metal, not dissimilar to the characteristic drawl of KoRn’s defining Follow The Leader. It was a far cry from the experimental pop of her Rina EP and breakthrough track Cherry, itself a more straightforward pop dance-floor filler.
Embracing this diversity, the British-Japanese singer lands confidently between the two on SAWAYAMA. Lined up against STFU!‘s nu-metal mastery, there’s the sugar-sweet pop brilliance of Paradisin’, and the poignant balladry of Chosen Family – an ode to the LGBTQ+ community in which she has found belonging. The unshackled vibrance of that scene effortlessly bleeds into the unpredictability of Rina’s sound.
Playing with the rules of cohesion, SAWAYAMA embraces a huge range of musical influences, all underpinned by her lyrical openness. Album opener Dynasty serves as both an homage to her heritage and a deeply personal insight into her family dynamics. This balance of cultural awareness and personal introspection runs throughout the entire album, from Akasaka Sad‘s geographical references to the self-critical Bad Friend and the ’90s infused liberation of Love Me 4 Me – itself including a nod to LGBTQ+ icon RuPaul.
By foregoing convention, Rina Sawayama has created a dynamic debut that builds on the already atypical sound she established with her early work. Pulling together nostalgic RnB, contemporary pop and brilliantly considered yet occasional nu-metal moments, SAWAYAMA presents pop like never before – a product of a truly innovative and creative mind.
4. Comme des Garçons (Like The Boys)
5. Akasaka Sad
7. Love Me 4 Me
8. Bad Friend
9. Fuck This World (Interlude)
10. Who’s Gonna Save U Now?
11. Tokyo Love Hotel
12. Chosen Family
Find Rina Sawayama tickets on Ticketmaster.co.uk.