Japanese all-girl pop idol trio Perfume's roots go back to 2001, when Kashiyuka (Kashino Yuka), Nocchi (Omoto Ayano), and A~chan (Nishiwaki Ayaka) were brought together in their hometown of Hiroshima. The trio members were only 11 and 12 years old at the time, and their activity was at first limited to their local area; however, their unusual route to pop stardom really began in 2003 when they were introduced to producer Nakata Yasutaka, until then best known as the creative force behind Shibuya-kei-style indie pop unit Capsule. A trio of singles on indie label Bee-Hive Records followed, combining a cute, fan-friendly image with a sound that drew on elements of anime music, lounge-pop, and 1980s Japanese techno-pop.
Despite the limited chart impact of the group's indie singles, the buzz around Perfume was enough to land them a major-label contract with Tokuma Japan Communications in 2005. Accompanying the change in label was a shift to a slicker, more sci-fi-oriented image and a change in musical style, with Nakata adopting a vocoder-heavy production style strongly influenced by European electro and house, particularly Daft Punk. The 2006 singles and B-sides collection Complete Best was a respectable chart hit and in many ways can be considered the group's debut album, confirming Perfume as both a viable pop group and unlikely darlings among indie scenesters.
Perfume chalked up their first Top Ten hit, "Polyrhythm," in September 2007, which confirmed them as major stars and celebrities. The group's sold-out national tour in 2008 culminated in two shows at Tokyo's famous Budokan concert hall/martial arts venue. When their actual debut album, Game, came out in April 2008, it entered the charts at number one, revealing a further refined version of the template of cute idol pop coupled with the more sophisticated dance music influences that had made them so successful. A sophomore LP quickly followed in 2009. Packed with '80s-tinged techno-pop, Triangle again topped the Oricon chart. JPN arrived in 2011, just as their exposure began to hit the international market. The trio signed with Universal Music Japan and combined a global release of JPN with their first international tour. A compilation album, Perfume Global Compilation: Love the World, was issued as a back-catalog primer for new fans. Their debut for Universal was released in 2013. Level3 was another hit for the band and received the deluxe treatment when it was re-released by Astralwerks in 2014.
They made their first steps into the North American live scene in 2015, performing at SXSW that spring. They celebrated their 15th anniversary later that year with a series of concerts and a documentary before releasing their fifth album, Cosmic Explorer, in 2016. Explorer peaked in the Top 20 on the Billboard Electronic chart and was followed by their first American tour. Months after Explorer arrived, Perfume released a single with the indie band OK Go. "I Don't Understand You" was the trio's third collaboration with the group, previously starring in music videos "I Won't Let You Down" and "Pick Me Up." ~ Ian Martin & Neil Z. Yeung