“Kawaii” is a pitfall. It’s a concept that has been around long enough in Japan to undergo warping and subversion, with no shortage of artists (in any medium) twisting the idea of cuteness into something else entirely — in recent memory, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is probably the clearest example, though other notable takes include “Me! Me! Me!” and Funassyi. Recently, a few producers have pushed cuddly sounds — think xylophones, bells, high-pitched vocals — to the extreme, exemplified best by Tomggg. In Japan, there are a lot of layers to the idea.
Problem is, Western views of “kawaii” focus on the Kitty-eyed version, with any history or deeper context ignored. Language barriers play a large role in this (as does history turning into unwanted baggage in many forms of arts writing), but still “kawaii” is so simplified at this point in certain corners of the internet and media as to be a boring stereotype.
Snail’s House is a project reveling in kawaii. The description on SoundCloud attributes the project for the creation of “Kawaii Future Bass,” which sounds dubious in all sorts of ways. The sea of anime girl avatars next to his uploaded wave forms don’t help either. Yet as overly cuddly as the whole thing comes off, it’s easy to look past the hyper-kawaii vibe with songs such as “Parfait Girl” (which, again, so cuddly). It’s half Avec Avec synth wooshes and half chimes and cutesy chopped-up vocals (similar to Tomggg, another artist who teeters on the edge of too much kawaii but similarly has the tunes to stay upright). Critically, as fluffy as it gets, “Parfait Girl” is always smashing forward, the beat adding a necessary element of aggression to what is otherwise a squeaky toy made aural (also, laser sounds). Listen above.