Revolutionary garage-pop four-piece CHAI are, without doubt, Japan’s far more enlightened, far more musically polished answer to Bikini Kill. Kick the shrill, abrasive vocals of ’90s riot grrrl to the curb, add a lot of hyperactive J-pop, and you’ve got CHAI. The band’s first proper album, ‘PUNK’, is a melodic yet pointed attack on all things patriarchal and, uniquely, all things connected to Japan’s culture of kawaii.
“‘PUNK’ for us, of course, is not the genre of music,” say the band. “‘PUNK’ to us is to overturn the worn-out values associated with ‘kawaii’ (or ‘cute’) created up until this point. ‘PUNK’ is a word that expresses a strong sense of self. To be yourself more, to become the person you truly want to be, to believe in yourself in every instance!”
It’s true that CHAI’s ultra-pop framework may not, at first, scream rebellion or rage. However, cutting lyricism makes it unquestionably clear that for the members of CHAI – Mana, Yuna, Kana and Yuuki – enough is enough. It is within this very paradox where the band pack their biggest punch.
Nowhere is this complexity made more apparent than on the final track of the album, ‘FUTURE’. A song at its crux centred upon grasping your own destiny and laying claim to your own path, it is made up of rock-solid drumming and tumbling guitar notes as steadfast as the band’s core message of nonconformity. Subversive and gleefully progressive, cutesy vocal harmonies and the addition of (somewhat creepy) children’s voices to some of CHAI’s tracks are a pretty satisfying final fuck-you to an element of Japanese culture that remains supremely antiquated and nauseatingly fetishistic.
Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines
As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.
Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.
If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.
It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.