Japanese quartet Chai is comprised of twin sisters Mana (vocals/keyboards) andKana(guitar) plus bassist/lyricist Yuuki and drummer Yuna. Formed in Nagoya in 2012, the four musicians came together to create music that would exist outside of the formulaic J-Pop music that infiltrated the charts. Their own musical tastes were drawn towards experimental Pop and Hip-Hop and they embraced a style that reflected all of their individual tastes. With songs written by Mana, Kana, and Yuuki, Chai released three singles between 2013 and 2014 before releasing their first EP, HOTTARAKA SERIES, in 2015. Two years later, they released their second EP, HOMEGORO SERIES, in April of 2017.
When their debut album PINK was released in late 2017, it presented a band without stylistic limitations. From Punk to Disco, Hip-Hop to Bubblegum Pop, each song had its own vibrant personality. Their second albumPUNK (2019) saw the quartet expand their musical universe while still sticking to their own unique take on Pop music. In fact, it was getting more difficult to call them a Pop band because… well, they weren’t. Chai was something else. The band was a hybrid – an experiment that took musical expression to a new level. Their third album, WINK (2021), upped the Soul and Hip-Hop influences, showing that all four members had matured as songwriters and performers.
Two years on, Chai return in 2023 with their fourth album, CHAI, which takes them on a different musical journey. This time, the four members of Chai embrace City Pop, a uniquely Japanese sound from the 1970s and 1980s that blended West Coast Pop with Jazz, Boogie, Disco, and Funk and sounded like an extension of what is now called Yacht Rock. However, Chai manages to keep this album connected with their past by creating music that remains experimental and eclectic while also whipping up some catchy hooks. On certain tracks – including the single “Game” – they even sound like a stripped down and reconditioned Tom Tom Club. The rest of CHAI – including highlights like “Para Para,” “We The Female!” and “Neo Kawaii, K?” – reveals growth and maturity but never loses its sense of fun. Isn’t that what music is all about?