Kero Kero Bonito: Civilisation II (Polyvinyl) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 28th, 2024  

Kero Kero Bonito

Civilisation II


Apr 22, 2021 Web Exclusive
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British indie pop trio Kero Kero Bonito have long been ever-changeable, darting between new transformations in sound and style with each new release. Previously, the band have prefaced these shifts with an EP, as with the TOTEP EP pointing to the noisy, dreamy, and insanely catchy indie rock of Time n’ Place. Once again the band heralded a new era in 2019, this time with a danceable synth pop existential odyssey, Civilisation I.

For their previous EP, the band widened their scope, going beyond Sarah Bonito’s dreams, mental health, and millennial malaise for a heady look at civilizational struggle through the years. And, true to the previous EP’s numbering, the trio is back with a follow-up EP this year (the fittingly titled Civilisation II), expanding the sound and themes of Civilisation I in new directions and once again proving themselves one of the most creative and subversive pop acts out there.

The EP’s themes follow a loose progression—past, present, and future. The first track, “Princess and the Clock,” takes the listener on a spritely experimental pop journey through a fairy tale. The sound of the track is pure Kero Kero Bonito, drawing back to the band’s early albums with their influences from synth pop and chiptune. Glittering synth pop and irrepresible energy keep the track relentlessly catchy, making for some of the strongest hooks of the band’s career. Yet, even as they call back to their earliest work, the band’s talents have only grown since then, most especially on the production side. In fact, the production on Civilisation II makes for a consistent highlight. Reportedly, the band used entirely vintage analog synths during the making of the EP, crafting tracks that deploy the tools of the past in a fearlessly forward-thinking experimental approach.

The second track, “21/04/20,” represents the world’s exceedingly strange present, reflecting on a single day at the beginning of lockdown a year ago. The band perfectly captures the hazy blend of days that quarantine brought last year. Lines like “Hey how are you doing?/I’m okay just the usual kind of weird” recall the simultaneously surreal and banal realities of the last year, all wrapped in dreamy melody and easygoing energy. While perhaps the least immediately memorable of the trio of tracks, the welcoming analog synths and intimate melodies imbue the song with an alluring sense of nostalgia, putting a warm yet otherworldly spin on the present.

Finally, the closing track, “Well Rested,” looks towards the future. It’s no surprise in that case that the track is the most experimental cut on the EP, a multi-phased synth funk opus that clocks in at seven minutes, the band’s longest track yet. “Well Rested” meanders down textured synth soundscapes before leading into a driving climax, transforming into a futuristic club-ready breakdown as Sarah Bonito intones over top like a prophet of doom. Similar to the environmentalist themes of Civilisation I, the track grapples with environmental collapse, this time envisioning a transhumanist future as humanity evolves into new forms—“We have survived a hundred apocalypses/Doomsday hasn’t come yet/You can not stop civilization.” Finally, the track descends into a glitchy noise-filled resting state, ending the EP’s loose narrative with a vision of an uncertain future.

Since the band’s debut, Kero Kero Bonito has gained a well-earned reputation for consistently creative indie pop, able to effortlessly innovate and experiment while retaining their unmistakable lively energy and immediately welcoming melodies. Civilisation II not only builds upon that reputation but points to equally bright horizons in the band’s future. With their most lush and detailed production yet, seamlessly shifting genre influences, and increasingly creative songwriting, Civilisation II is another welcome addition to the Kero Kero Bonito story. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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