CHAI 'CHAI' LP
Pre-order. Due 22nd September.
Transparent pink vinyl.
The Japanese band CHAI cast a spell on the world in 2017 with their debut album, Pink, a collection of songs that introduced their singular brand of playful pop. The enthusiastically feminist follow-up, Punk, raked in accolades from the music press and fellow artists. That led to Wink, which CHAI made via remote Zoom sessions, a limitation that became a strength by allowing Mana (lead vocals and keys), Kana (guitar), Yuna (drums), and Yuuki (bassist-lyricist) to collaborate with artists abroad to create a work that found catharsis in their international community.
The band’s new self-titled album finds CHAI returning to their roots, drawing inspiration from their Japanese heritage and the music that raised them. “Everything reflected in the lyrics expresses our experience as Japanese women,” Mana says. CHAI’s ethos is one of inclusion, and lead single “We The Female!” – recorded live to honour the band’s riotous performances – beckons listeners into the mission. “We are human and were born as female, but we have both female and male aspects in each of our souls, each with our own sense of balance,” CHAI said in an accompanying statement. “We can’t just label ourselves into clear-cut, simple categories anymore! I’m not anyone else but just ‘me,’ and you are no one else but just ‘you.’ This song celebrates that with a roar!”
On CHAI, the band draws directly from city pop, a Tokyo-born sound popularized in the ‘70s and ‘80s. City pop was a Japanese take on Western lounge music, borrowing from jazz, boogie, funk, and yacht rock to create a sound that straddled two cultures. While city pop has recently found a US audience via TikTok and YouTube, CHAI grew up on the genre. For production, they tapped previous collaborator Ryu Takahashi, who shared their love of city pop, eurobeat, and the melodies of J-pop artists like Maria Takeuchi. “They wanted to dig into their Japanese identity, not in a traditional sense, but in this filtered Western way,” Takahashi says.
Catalogue number: SP1585X
Label: Sub Pop