Yokohama native Haruna Kimishima, aka Haru Nemuri, made waves well beyond the shores of Japan with her 2018 album Haru to Shura, thrilling listeners with her dynamic, emotionally charged combination of Californian pop-punk and idiosyncratic alternative rock, laptop audio collage, precious piano hooks and above all, an approach to voice and lyrics that some have rather awkwardly labeled “poetry rapping”.
Her self-expression in a semi-singsong style is dense and intense, whether she’s confiding details of daily existence in a near-whisper, or issuing full-throated proclamations regarding life’s big questions. Either way, she’s always hurried, anxious to pack as much verbiage as she can into each of these three-minute masterpieces. The subtitled video for the stirring lead single “Riot” affords a peek into what’s on Kimishima’s mind, for non-Japanese speakers (scroll down for further insights by way of her personal manifesto).
Kimishima’s work falls well within the parameters of J-pop – she’s even done work with mainstream idoru act Tokyo Girls’ Style. That said, she’s pushing the envelope of the genre, investing it with a rare degree of originality, awareness, and emotional honesty, though never at the expense of the almost supernatural catchiness that’s the hallmark of Japanese pop.