Kero Kero Bonito’s newest single “Only Acting” finds the British trio experimenting with elements of rock ‘n’ roll, punk and industrial music. The track opens simply, with a drum machine and vocalist Sarah Midori Perry delivering her signature light, comfortable flow. An easy bassline works its way in next — a definite sonic shift for Kero Kero Bonito — which is then followed by a crescendoing flurry of harsh synth. It’s exciting to see Kero Kero Bonito, well known for their stellar saccharine J-pop style, experimenting with sounds that are a little edgier and more intense.
The real payoff of “Only Acting” is the interplay between Perry’s lyrics and the new techniques employed. Perry opens with an assertion: “When I step onto the stage, I see the curtain raise / It’s apparent, I’ve got someone to play.” The couplet is a tongue-in-cheek nod to how embodying an aesthetic can be useful, but also limiting. In Kero Kero Bonito’s case, Perry is making it clear that the past pop-centric style has become cumbersome, and that the group is ready to grow out of it. However, that isn’t to say that they completely abandon the fun, sugary electro-pop that put them on the map. That same energy is infused with a tense desire for release, culminating in skipping effects, errant cymbals and synth as the track trips over itself during the final moments. “Only Acting” is a morsel of what the next iteration of Kero Kero Bonito will sound like — innovative, self-aware but as fun as ever.