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Chai | Punk

The female Japanese popsters play by their own rules with their sophomore album.

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Punk, like beauty, is in the eye (or more likely the ear) of the beholder. For some, it’s all about three chords played loud and fast and rabble-rousing vocals screamed at the top of your lungs — preferably while clad in leather jackets and ripped jeans. For others, it’s all about an attitude of rebellion and individuality. Those who are already acquainted with the Japanese female foursome known as Chai already know which one applies to them. Those who aren’t up to speed yet should remedy that with immediate and repeated exposure to their sophomore album Punk (the followup to 2018’s Pink). Between their sweet-toothed melodies, sugar-buzz beats and cotton-candy harmonies, these 10 infectiously irresistible ditties are saccharine enough to give you cavities. But if you think it’s all just empty calories, listen closer: Thanks to the girlish Tom Tom Club grooves and lo-fi Go! Team exuberance, it’s clear their influences run wider, farther and deeper than the J-Pop charts. And while I don’t speak Japanese and they only appear to have pidgin English, I suspect there’s more to songs like Fashionista, Choose Go! and Great Job (“Do you do housework? / It’s a great job! / Ha ha ha ha! / Get power / Fresh feeling!”) than meets the eye (or ear). Whatever the case, it comes down to this: Chai are playing by their own rules and clearly don’t care what anybody else thinks. And if that isn’t punk, what is?