Single Review: Frankie Cosmos + Kero Kero Bonito - "Fish Bowl"

Frankie Cosmos x Kero Kero Bonito - "Fish Bowl"
(2017 Self-Released)

"small fish, stuck in a fish bowl / do you pine for the sea?"

Whether sung from the perspective of an adult lost in the asphalt and anonymity of city life, a child too preoccupied with lofty aspirations to dream of a world beyond homework, or an aquatic pet cramped in their glass vessel, one can expect the imagined narrator of any Kero Kero Bonito song to be confined to a tight, often lonely space, combating their sense of smallness with shimmery twee-poptimism. On "Fish Bowl", a standout cut from the British trio's 2016 debut record, Bonito Generation, frontwoman Sarah Bonito imagines the mundane existence of a goldfish as an extended metaphor for coming-of-age. Reading from the pet's short to-do list, she succinctly sums up the life of a domesticated animal, while also reminiscing on the carefree spirit of growing up: "swim around in a circle," she sings atop a vapor-funk instrumental, "come along when it's feeding time." 

It's not long, though, before Bonito's nostalgia reverts back to the present-day. "But when you find the ocean, how will you know where to go?" she asks. For a song upbeat and colorful enough to have been performed by a team of mascots on a children's television series, there's a stark sense of uncertainty present - a vibe that's especially relevant around graduation season. 

This feeling of hopeful apprehension is magnified in Frankie Cosmos' new cover version of "Fish Bowl", arranged for KKB's new series of remixes that will be wheeled out weekly over the month of May. Subbing grumblings of clean rhythm guitar and tinny keyboard in for the tune's original electronic textures, the New York singer-songwriter snaps a shot of Sarah Bonito's songcraft through her own indiepop filter, yielding half-peppy, half-glum results. 

Concluding with a stanza's worth of verses exchanged in English and Japanese by the pair of vocalists, "Fish Bowl" gives its listeners a view from each side of the glass: Cosmos' is refracted and fuzzy - Bonito's is sparkling; seen from the safety of a ceramic castle.