One of the most life-affirming albums in recent history
Jack Vincent
11:03 20th May 2021

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In the midst of a global pandemic that’s been going on for what seems like forever, it’s been really easy to wallow in despair and a lot of artists and creatives have. So it’s absolutely amazing that the incredible CHAI, straight out of Japan, have gone in completely the opposite direction and have made one of the most life-affirming albums in recent history. 

Wink, instead of the cute-as-balls-garage-punk-kinda sound of their previous outings, takes a big jump into cute-as-balls pop. Wink is full of sounds influenced by city pop and hip-hop, immaculately produced and insanely uplifting, it’s such a natural fit for CHAI that it’s easy to imagine they’ve always sounded like this. Opener ‘Donuts Mind If I Do’ is the mission statement for Wink. A laidback track laden with synth-horns and CHAI’s patented Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies, it’s the sort of thing you’d have on repeat at the spa. Lyrically, the track encapsulates what I think is the theme of album; not letting opportunities go to waste and living life to the fullest. Free Doughnuts? ‘Donuts Mind If I Do’. The next track, ‘Maybe Chocolate Chips’ featuring rapper Ric Wilson, is a song about embracing your imperfections, held together by the chillest of instrumentals. Like a lot of songs on Wink, it’s real corny but so sincere that it’s hard not to fall in love. 

Songs like ‘ACTION’ and ‘Nobody Knows We Are Fun’ are like CHAI’s take on Kaytranada with perfect results. Both songs have irresistible beats almost factory made for the dancefloor, but Chai’s personality still shines through. That personality is ultimately the best thing about Wink. It’s so wholesome, so positive and so much fun, it’s like the girls were on a mission to cheer up as many people as possible. You can’t listen to Wink without the biggest smile on your face and if you can, you should see someone about it. Even songs like ‘PING PONG’, which is a straight up J-Pop song filtered through a Nintendo, sound like they should be awful - but it’s just so happy and full of life that it swings right around and becomes one of the best songs on the album. 

We’ve all been going through some dark times the last 100 years or however long the pandemic has been going on, but that’s no reason not to take a break sometimes and just have a great time. CHAI get this 100% and Wink is a testament to the power of positivity in these trying times. 

Wink arrives 21 May via Sub Pop Records.

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Photo: Press