It’s the moment J-pop fans have been waiting for: Hikaru Utada – or, as fans lovingly call her, Hikki – is back with their 8th studio album, Bad Mode – their first full-length release since coming out as non-binary last June. The Japanese-American superstar, who rose to stardom with her 1999 album First Love (which remains the bestselling album in Japanese history), released the record on her birthday (January 19), shortly followed by an online concert on her YouTube channel.
Featuring tracks produced by A.G. Cook and Floating Points, Bad Mode sees Utada reflect on themes of self-love and acceptance across 14 electronic tracks. The style is considerably more upbeat than 2018’s Hatsukoi, with tracks like “Find Love” and “Time” recalling the glossy R&B hooks and early noughties pop production of their 2004 English breakout album Exodus, produced by Timberland. There’s also three versions of Utada and Skrillex’s Kingdom Hearts III theme song “Face My Fears”: the original Japanese version, an English translation, and an A.G. Cook remix. Revisit our Dazed’s 2021 profile on Hikki here.
Elsewhere, DJ Python drops a fresh EP, iann dior shares his third studio album, and Pan Daijing releases the music from her multi-disciplinary exhibition Tissues.