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August 21, 2017 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Japanese Breakfast — Soft Sounds From Another Planet

Japanese Breakfast is the name of the solo project of Michelle Zauner, who released her incredible sophomore album last month. Soft Sounds From Another Planet is an appropriately galactic journey through huge walls of guitar sounds, intricate arrangements, impeccably used auto-tune, whirling keys, and reverb-drenched delight — in stark contrast to her lo-fi guitar-based first album, Psychopomp. She has spent her time in between albums working with new producers, musicians, and engineers, touring and opening for such greats as Slowdive and Mitski, and this has certainly allowed her to polish her sound.

The album’s opener, “Diving Woman” is one of my favourite songs of this year; a tantalising mash of Ride-style ’90s shoegaze and early 2000s pop vibes à la Kylie Minogue’s “Breathe” or All Saints’ “Pure Shores”. The album was intended as something of a science fiction musical, and it delivers on this promise on the originally released single, “Machinist”. This track is honestly my musical wet dream. It has sick nasty funk riffs, Kraftwerk-style vocal phrases, strong pop sensibilities, and a ripper sax solo. It is a shining disco anthem written for a cyber lover.

The album’s title track delivers a deliciously reverb-y swirl that almost sounds like a dark, intergalactic version of the country-pop ballads of the ’50s. “Boyish” isn’t afraid to get even a little more country in sound, and delivers the iconic line I can’t get you off my mind/ I can’t get you off in general. “This House” deals with the simple day-to-day reality of living in a flat full of women, sharing trauma as you do the dishes together, the very relatable loss of a relationship, and ruminating on whether it was only a need for companionship and opportune timing that the relationship existed at all. “The Body is a Blade” is a modern shoegaze classic, revamped for today by putting the vocals at the centre of the mix, and provides one of my favourite lyrics of this year, and possibly one of the best pithy summations of mental illness I have ever heard: Your body is a blade that moves while your brain is writhing.

This album is a heady mix of rock, funk, disco, pop, and shoegaze, and an absolute fucking delight to have in your earholes. Check it out wherever you tend to find your music, stat.


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