Japanese Breakfast

Album Review

Soft Sounds From Another Planet ensnares the listener with Michelle Zauner gently pulling you in with a guiding hand and whispering harsh truths to an open ear.

Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet

When Michelle Zauner side stepped from her primarily band Little Big League and released Psychopomp in 2016 as Japanese Breakfast it was a lite step in a new direction. That move set in motion a follow up record brimming with rich textures and dreamy alt pop sounds.

Soft Sounds From Another Planet is an album that follows on from the mournful and heart wrenching introspection of loss and grief by exploring such concepts post humorously. Still aching and still reconciling, Zauner extrapolates the emotions of moving forward after the traumatic events involving the loss of her mother to cancer.

Boyish the single from the album is a whimsy, dreamy number that dances and swirls in your mind longer after the track has finished. A wonderfully sour song based on the acceptance of apathy and romantic dysfunction. A standout track on the album and one that ensnares the listener into wanting to hear more.

The opening track Driving Woman is a shimmering track veiled with tantalising vocals before giving way to a wall of fuzzy washed out guitars. Followed by Road Head, a track that is a confluence of guitar, bass, sythns and drum machine beats. All the while looping with ever greater intricacy and Zauner’s soft vocals tying it all together.

Moving through Machinist and its fusion of auto tune and horns temporarily shifts pace before falling back to the familiarity of the darker and atmospheric instrumental piece of Planetary Ambience. Title track Soft Sounds From Another Planet incrementally builds from the echoed vocals of Zauner as if locked in a room whilst questioning poor decisions by lamenting “I wish I could keep you from abusing yourself for no reason at all”.

12 steps tips its hat to garage alt-pop with a two minute up tempo power pop rock out. As if to suddenly shake off the momentary increase in noise, Jimmy Fallon Big slows proceedings back down with spacey keys and simple guitar. Till Death with its lullaby like intro and use of xylophone is an uplifting track ably assisted by gentle horns whilst addressing such issues as anxiety and PTSD.

The disillusionment and banality of existence is plain to hear in This House, not just through the stripped back acoustic guitar and soft piano accompaniment but sense of isolation and emptiness created Zauners downtrodden vocals in “sharing trauma and doing dishes”.

What is so infectious about this album is its honesty and realism. Sitting you down front row and centre of Zauner’s world, gently pulling you in with a guiding hand whilst whispering harsh truths to an open ear.