Rina Sawayama – ‘SAWAYAMA’ album review

A pop star has been born folks.

This is the debut album from Japanese-British singer Rina Sawayama. She arose onto the scene with her 2017 EP Rina, which was met with critical acclaim.

Once again, stepping out of your comfort zone in terms of the music you listen to, can only do you good, as Sawayama’s self-titled debut is nothing short of phenomenal.

This record kicks off with the explosive “Dynasty”, which is, 100 percent, Evanescence-inspired. I can hear “Bring Me To Life” scattered all over this track. It’s also a very eye-popping introduction to just how powerful and dynamic Sawayama’s vocals are, and shows that we are going to see a vast range in the pop-crossovers we see on this album.

Next, we get the equivalent of Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You”, but with the attitude of Britney Spears on “XS”. The short-burst guitars add to how absolutely fun and out-there Sawayama is willing to go to show that she is making a statement. I also love the song’s sentiment of trashing consumerism.

We see a quick shift from R&B to nu-metal on the next track “STFU!”, which is pretty self-explanatory. The blaring guitars are head-banging, to say the least, and just in the first three tracks alone, we can see the incredible range that Sawayama can display.

“Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)” is a tribute to the dance tracks of the early 2000s, and sees Sawayama saying that the confidence that woman have should be referred to in a different word aside from being called a b**ch.

Another highlight on this record is “Akasaka Sad” where she expresses how displaced she feels being a Japanese woman in England. We get some electro-pop on this track with very zany, metallic beats strewn throughout the track.

After five incredible tracks, this album, unfortunately, begins fading with the video-game sounding “Paradisin'”. It’s definitely not an awful track, but it is really just too campy for my liking and would work better as an intro for an anime or a main theme for a video game.

Sawayama shifts into NEW JACK SWING of all genres on the brilliant “Love Me 4 Life”, which is saying that if you don’t have it in you to love yourself, how can you expect anyone to love you? The hook is sonically equivalent to New Edition, and I am an absolute sucker for any nods to the R&B subgenre. Good job, Rina.

The second half of this record just feels like a night and day shift in the incredible shift in tones and boldness of the opening tracks. Although, I have to give a shoutout to the stadium rock anthem “Who’s Gonna Save U Now?”, and the lovely ballad towards the end of this project “Chosen Family”, which is a tribute to her friends in the LGBTQ community.

Like I said at the beginning, this is the birth of a pop superstar. If her music can catch on with the masses, this is the next superstar in pop. As long as she continues to explore and blend multiple genres with this pop sound, we are in for long-standing, successful career for Rina Sawayama.

Richest Tracks: “Dynasty”, “XS”, “STFU!”, “Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)”, “Akasaka Sad”, “Love Me 4 Me”, “Who’s Gonna Save U Now?”, “Chosen Family”

Worst Track: “Snakeskin”

Rating: 8/10

Listen to the album:

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/sawayama/1493469433

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3stadz88XVpHcXnVYMHc4J?si=IQUEKP5ITd-3ROdtA4sBSg

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