CHAI ‘CHAI’ Album Review: Sophisticatedly Kawaii

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Japanese All-girl band CHAI has delved more into their lounge, chill, soft rock, and soul, and a few surprises in each mix that will keep their fans feeling alive.

I’ve always been a fan of CHAI. They’re one of the few bands that made me feel love at first sight and hear. Their first releases were a mix of indie, rock, J-pop, and what you would describe as “cute,” with the J-pop-filled vocals of twins Kana and Mana. It’s easy to fall in love with them.

Chai just released their self-titled new album, and their sound has evolved and matured, which isn’t much of a surprise, especially after they released Maybe Chocolate Chips, a collaboration with Ric Wilson, in 2021.

In their self-titled fourth album, Chai dived deep into the rabbit hole of pop and rock-related genres such as dance, blue-eyed soul, and funk, which gives their music a sophisticated vibe without completely abandoning the “Kawaii” sensibilities that make their fans love them. You hear that on the songs From 1992, PARA PARA, GAME, LIKE, I NEED, and KARAOKE, which all sound refined.

The first track, MATCHA, started very loungey and chill while being cute at the same time. It’s the song that’s closest to Maybe Chocolate Chips, except for the surprise change of key in the bridge that inserted a lot of hip-hop overtones.

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We the Female is a feminist soulful punk rock anthem, which is like their offering to fans who are expecting a bit of angst from the all-girl band.

The next track, NEO KAWAII, K?, might make you think it’s an extended angsty allure to the rest of the tracks, but it is one of the songs with the most snares because it’s a bit riot-y while being cosmopolitan.

I Can’t Organizeeee, Driving22 are songs with a mix of funk, dance electronica, indie, and city pop which have a lot of catchy vocal melodies that remind me of the 90s pop that I’ve always loved.

CHAI’s self-titled album is a perfect 10. It’s so good that, honestly, I’m not sure how the band would be able to exceed critics’ expectations of their next album.

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