Plenty of Japanese bands have gone to South By Southwest, but I can’t remember one using said Texas exodus to create a video as outright charming as the one CHAI made for “Sayonara Complex.” Not sure I’ve seen anyone else in 2017 seemingly having so much fun as the quartet as they conga through a hotel entrance or turn the Target toy department into their personal live house. The clip alone is worth your time.
Yet don’t let that lead take away from the music itself, which is every bit as catchy and loose-limbed. CHAI have been kicking around since 2015, making off-center indie-rock the whole time (this first upload to YouTube is a highlight), full of sudden twists and turns, but “Sayonara Complex” seems like a good entry point into their sound. In many ways, it lines up well with the dominant sound of Japanese indie (and otherwise) rock in 2017, unfolding at mid-tempo and finding the vocals in no rush to get anywhere. It’s not far from the chill-in-the-city vibes of Suchmos or the Mac-DeMarco-indebted slacking of…well, almost any band that takes a promo picture in sunglasses. Yet none of those groups have thought up anything as sweet as that post-chorus interlude, where everything gets dreamy and a little out of time. Not to mention everything before and after, silly but focused, bringing to mind the now defunct Merpeoples, or a Mitsume who knew how to have a little more fun in song. Probably the most striking indie-rock song I’ve heard out of Japan thus far, and not the last we will hear from them. Listen above.
And, for good measure, here was February’s song and video.