Review Summary: Blue smarties for the soul.
Before reading the rest of this review, I'd suggest taking a minute to listen to and watch the video of Platonic Planet
's title track – or rather, four-and-a-half minutes. The link's in the comments. Go ahead, I've had the kettle on. I can wait.
Back? What did you think? If you're as knackered as she doubtless was by the end of her recital then you'll probably be wanting a little rest, which I'd recommend taking before listening to the entirety of Platonic Planet
because there are no stops on that train to be had.
In a way, the video is a perfect encapsulation of a lot of what makes KOTO's debut great, but also it somewhat underplays what is actually a meticulous production job which rivals that of any maximalist pop outfit taking itself somewhat seriously. Notably, there's a pretty consistent utilisation of all things nostalgic and 'old-times futuristic' strewn across Platonic Planet
, most prominently regarding the arcade-style synths and sounds as a seemingly endless stream of cascading jingles, bit-machine bloops and rambunctious saws weave themselves in a kind of complex, retro tapestry that, somehow, is totally comprehensible. It's entirely possible, should one want to, to examine the layering on display here and be genuinely impressed at how nothing feels wasted despite there being so much going on; being frank though, most of the time one is jamming this because they want to get their bop on and the whole package presents itself compellingly. The amateurish, kitschy video to the title track, replete with sparkly costumes and My First Video Editor™ lasers, makes no attempt to shy away from the track's 'futuristic' sound, but Platonic Planet
thrives on its unapologetic thematic nature; other moods explored here include 'haunted house' ('Question Quest') and 'Chinese club' ('SickteenSick'), blended unflinchingly with hyperactive bitpop. Things only cool down for closing track 'Cinderella Syndrome' ever-so-slightly, yielding a slightly underwhelming finale after seven tracks of high-octane thrills, but aside from that it's wall-to-wall entertainment.
While there's an inherent and probably necessary degree of childishness in KOTO's high-pitched vocal performance especially considering we're dealing with themes such as the aforementioned, (she was between 15 and 16 at the time of recording, hardly the age of a battle-hardened codger), it would be doing her a gross disservice to say she's just there as along for the ride. Sure there's not the emotional range of a Portuguese fado
on show but the defining feature of her contribution is enthusiasm
; as far as giving the impression of throwing everything into a performance there's not much else I can compare her with, and it's a sizeable bulk of why Platonic Planet
is as endearing as it is. Chorus after chorus is delivered with disarming confidence despite her years, giving each hook the ability to transcend language barriers; even in my very flimsy Japanese I'm there, singing away, fighting the urge to throw my arms in the air and pretend I'm on stage while a thousand multicoloured lights dance about my person. And really, that's the bottom line of Platonic Planet
– it's a 35 minute happy pill, a little, possibly nonsensical oasis of bright colours and flailing dance routines to throw on and enjoy when you're feeling a little glum.