Perky pop gems
The curiously-named Zombie-Chang offers up some mesmerising compositions on Petit Petit Petit. Weaving in synth-pop elements with bass and percussion, the end result is a collection of crisp tunes that could be viewed as a palate cleanser if you’ve over-indulged in the more sugary end of J-pop.
Zombie-Chang is actually 25 year-old Tokyo-based singer and songwriter Meirin Yung, an artist who’s built up a reputation from live shows at Summer Sonic and Fuji Rock. Petit Petit Petit follows on from previous releases, such as 2016’s Zombie-Change and 2017’s Gang! with more electronic elements – a sound which Meirin describes as “anti-EDM”.
Written and produced by Meirin, Petit Petit Petit (a release that’s actually an expanded version of a previously released mini-album) also features some collaborative efforts from the rhythm section of Tokyo-based outfit, Never Young Beach. The addition of drummer Kento Suzuki and bassist Keigo Tatsumi for these recordings has given the songs a more organic, rounded feel.
Opening track ‘Lemonade’ has a crisp synth-pop sensibility with an engaging bass line. It’s got a much more robust foundation than the starker pure electronic take of the original, a sign that expanding her musical arsenal with the likes of Kento Suzuki and Keigo Tatsumi was a shrewd move.
There’s a more hypnotic workout on ‘Don’t Be So Mean’ with its insistent synths and bassy groove (apparently a song of choice for R&B artist The Weeknd).
Keigo Tatsumi’s bass is front and centre on ‘Sometimes I Don’t Know’, which offers a quirky sensibility with its spaced-out synths and Meirin’s haunting vocals. The blissed-out ‘I Can’t Get to Sleep’, meanwhile, comes across like a space pop gem.
But one of the album’s finest moments comes courtesy of the clipped beats of ‘Mona Lisa’. Meirin’s vocal hooks drive the song along and its choppy rhythms craft a simple, yet appealing ditty.
That nod to French culture is something that lurks at the heart of Petit Petit Petit, as on the crunchy synth-pop of ‘We Should Kiss’ with its insistent “Ooh la la” vocal rhythms. Zombie-Chang’s first international single release, ‘We Should Kiss’ is an off-kilter pop outing with layered synth elements battling it out with a strident bass.
‘The Reason Is Love’ apparently arose from Meirin’s desire to make a “3 chord band-like” song. The result is an emphatic post-punk workout with some nice percussive touches.
Elsewhere, there’s a bit of nod to Polysics on the frenetic beats of ‘I Hate You’ while ‘Onion Slice’ has an appealing organ-driven groove to it.
Closing the album out, ‘Goodbye My Love And Turn Around’ has a perky quality which plays around with traditional Japanese music tropes. Meirin’s treated vocals give the whole number a raw feel at times, but there’s a solid enough foundation to the composition to present a bouncy outing.
Petit Petit Petit has more than a few gems popping off the record with a strong nod to that post-punk/new wave vibe that the likes of Devo or Blondie explored so well. At the same time, there’s a quirky, unique quality to Meirin Yung’s approach to composition and singing that saves it from being merely a pastiche of older styles.
The release of this album continues the efforts of Toothpaste Records (who were also responsible for the release of Tentenko’s eponymous album release back in 2018). A UK-based label, they’re keen to showcase Japanese artists on a series of vinyl releases. It’s a venture masterminded by Johnny Hartford from London-based independent record store Sister Ray in collaboration with Phillipe Boehm, founder of Tokyo-based label and design studio Alegori.
As with Tentenko’s album, this release is a special limited edition on transparent blue vinyl. The album comes with new artwork designed by Phillipe Boehm of Alegori, which includes the full lyrics in English and Japanese.
Petit Petit Petit is out 13th September on Toothpaste Records.