Dirty Hit

In Rina Sawayama’s debut album SAWAYAMA, the pop singer feels torn apart by her past. “The pain in my vein is hereditary,” she gasps on the opener “Dynasty.”

After introducing herself with her fantastic EP, RINA, in 2017, the Japanese-born British singer has said she wanted her new music to be about family and identity, while “understanding yourself in the context of two opposing cultures.”

What makes SAWAYAMA so striking is listening to the singer’s battle with her rage, whether it be stemming from generational trauma or racial microaggressions, and hearing how she channels it into creating one of the best modern pop albums of the year. 

Weaving seamlessly across 2000s-era bubblegum pop, R&B and even nu-metal, Sawayama creates a deeply personal collection of songs backed by a soaring production of synths and heavy guitars. It’s like Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and Korn blended together to create something impressively current. 

“Patience, overrated,” she sneers on the wondrously chaotic “STFU!” before launching into a feral scream. “That feeling, eating at my chest rips me open.” In SAWAYAMA, Rina demands control and reclaims her space. It’s exhilarating, and an excellent reintroduction to an exciting new figure in pop music. 

Best Track: “XS”