EP Review: Rina Sawayama — RINA

Release Date: October 27, 2017

Genre: Electropop

Rina Sawayama’s latest EP, RINA, invites you to the futuristic reinvention of 2000s era pop music. Ever since 2013, Sawayama has exercised her musical prowess as a means to breaking down the intricacies of her “digital anxiety”. Sawayama’s latest EP is not only a greater expression of her beliefs but it is also supercharged by its catchy nostalgic beats and glossy production value provided by renowned musician, Clarence Clarity. An amalgamation of these elements makes up for a promising debut EP that is sure to rank Sawayama above her contemporaries that have attempted to combine the past into present (or should I say future?) generations of pop music.

The opening track, Ordinary Superstar, begins with Sawayama exposing to the listener that she masks her vulnerability and ordinary features behind her distinguished image of a confident pop star. Keeping with the theme of identifying insecurities, Sawayama goes as far as recycling a range of issues in socialisation (pessimism, optimism, anxiety, need for freedom) into empowerment through the track Alterlife. Each of these tracks are supplemented by the clever synthesis of catchy pop hooks and a nice twist of grungy guitars. This combination possesses an earnest tone without feeling too saccharine which is necessarily the type of atmosphere that topics with such substance inherently demand. Tracks such as Take Me As I Am encourage listeners to feel inspired to take immediate action with said issues and it also unlock waves of nostalgia that is reminiscent of the early days of Utada Hikaru.

Other highlight tracks such as 10–20–40 allows Sawayama to showcase her distinct ability to engage listeners through spoken word delivery and there is a significant break in the middle of the song that encompasses the resolve to move past her worries in physical and mental form. The instrumental of this track represent a throwback to the 1980s era of pop similar to the style of contemporaries like Sky Ferreira. Among the entire list of tracks, lead single Cyber Stockholm Syndrome stands outs to address the primary ideals that are representative of this EP. Accompanied by a dynamic of alternative R&B blended with elements of glitch pop lies a bold statement by Sawayama taking vital steps to break free and convert the anxieties associated with digital interaction into inner peace and acceptance within herself. The lyrical and melodic flow is almost a homage to Destiny’s Child but Sawayama excels in adopting their catchy and palpable aesthetic. Cyber Stockholm Syndrome is definitely the benchmark of what we may expect to materialise in a future album release.

Outside of some slightly complementary but pleasant interludes (Time Out, Through The Wire), RINA delivers a generous helping of some of the most experimental efforts of pop in modern times. With the valuable assistance of Clarence Clarity’s mastermind, Rina Sawayama expresses herself well in such a incredible showing of putting together a project that brims with ingenuity and sonic capacity.

This EP is that damn good. Pretty DELISH.


Favourite tracks: Cyber Stockholm Syndrome, Alterlife, Ordinary Superstar, 10–20–40

Would recommend to people who are fans of: Any 2000s era act that makes you feel nostalgic, Utada Hikaru, Sky Ferreira, Clarence Clarity (last but not least, check his stuff out, too!)

Here is the music video for Cyber Stockholm Syndrome! I have also linked a Spotify so you can check the rest of the EP out. Thanks again for taking your precious time to read my ramblings about Rina Sawayama and her brilliant debut. Keep hydrated and stay DELISH for that next review!

Originally published at delishmagish.wordpress.com on November 24, 2017.

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