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Civilisation II

by Kero Kero Bonito

Released April 21, 2021 via Polyvinyl Record Co.

Reviewed May 3, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Well Rested (48%), The Princess and the Clock (45%), 21/04/20 (7%)

The sequel to Kero Kero Bonito’s 2019 EP, Civilisation I, accomplishes everything its predecessor did and more. KKB made sure this project would stand out as something special within the band’s discography, with beautiful, bouncy, and synth-heavy electropop production along with poetic, topical, and depressing yet optimistic lyrics. Gus and Jamie’s production is the best it has ever been, and it takes much more of a front seat than it has on previous records, all while Sarah continues to provide unbelievably satisfying vocals as always. At just 14 minutes, Civilisation II captures everything fans love about Kero Kero Bonito, while still managing to switch things up and keep their sound refreshing. – Hadley (9/10)

Despite the wait, the second installment in Kero Kero Bonito’s conceptual Civilisation series contains some of their best material yet. Following their transition from electronic-infused, hip-hop-esque beats to boundary-pushing indietronica that incorporated noise and industrial psychedelia, this new EP feels like the next logical step. Even with it prioritising IDM instrumentation, it’s still as sonically mature as Time n’ Place (2018), retaining textured production, like the rich deep house keys that populate this civilisation. Closer “Well Rested” best exemplifies this, as its virtually perfect progression holds together a myriad of sounds that create a danceable soundtrack to the end of the world. Sarah’s vocals are still as dreamy and soothing as ever, adding another poignant contrast with lyrics of feeling trapped and nauseous. The slight lull in the middle would be a necessary structural and thematic element if Civilisation II were longer, but considering it’s a three-track EP, they certainly could’ve given us full-throttle performances all the way through. Nevertheless, this brief collection of tracks is exactly the direction KKB should head in and raises the bar for whatever shape their next LP will take. – Cam (8.3/10)

Kero Kero Bonito is well in the throes of a starbound and wanderlust phase of their music; their latest EP represents another confident step in the direction they’re facing. Civilisation II is the second half of a brief follow-up to the group’s sophomore album, Time n’ Place, which saw KKB in a stage of growth that would expand their sound and provide a newfound emotional depth to their music. Where KKB was always colorful, they have recently ventured to sound more kaleidoscopic and complex. Civilisation II seems to harken back to that exciting brand of synthpop they were budding into in 2018, pushing it further into practice with just 14 minutes of runtime. The subtle influence of video game sounds and the adventurous spirit of franchises like Civilization and Zelda is yet another element of these three songs that keep KKB sounding unique, fresh, and experimental. With hopefully another full-length album on the horizon, Civilisation II serves as a satisfying stop-gap project and an informative update on the group’s creative outlook moving forward. – DeVán (7.5/10)

Hadley: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.5/10 | Cam: 8.3/10

Pax: 8/10 | Peter: 8/10 | DeVán: 7.5/10


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