Recommended Tracks: You Seemed so Happy, Lilo, Worms
Artists You May Like: The 1975, Colouring, Oh Wonder
It was almost exactly four years ago when I heard the song, “Still,” by The Japanese House. I was obsessed with it for weeks; I hadn’t heard anything so futuristic and mellow. Ever since that release, The Japanese House had been teasing new songs, releasing one four-song EP each year. No information had been given as to when an album would be coming, or if an album would be coming, leaving us to wonder how long this pattern would last.
Our suspense came to an end last year, as The Japanese House revealed a release date for the debut album: March 1. Following two more singles that came out earlier this year, the debut album finally dropped yesterday. This album, Good at Falling, features 13 tracks that give us a glimpse into the life of Amber Bain, the mastermind behind The Japanese House.
Amber has always given us songs that were deeply personal, but were backed with intriguing and creative sounds that took away from the severity of the lyrics. This album is no exception. The first few tracks are classic The Japanese House: melismatic phrases, surprising twists to choruses and melodies, and honest lyrics. The fifth track, “You Seemed so Happy,” breaks up the somber vibe established by the previous tracks. It begins with a calm guitar riff and then morphs into an upbeat pop song, maintaining a playful and bright tone throughout the entire track.
Things get a little more experimental on the second half of the album. Usually, Amber’s vocals are masked by a vocoder or by layers of backing vocals. However, when she begins “Lilo,” her vocals are exposed, if only for the first few lines. The next track is just as interesting in that it is the first time that we hear piano on the album. Even though the track is called “Everybody Hates Me,” which is a serious sentiment, the twinkle of piano creates a bit of charm. Every sound and every effect serves a purpose on this album; nothing is happening by accident.
The last few songs are a little haunting, but endearing. The track, “f a r a w a y,” deals with the pain that comes from being away from someone that you love. It reminds me of a scene in a movie, where the main character makes a realization or reflects upon something central to the story. The last track, “i saw you in a dream,” was released in 2017, but has taken on a new form for this album. All of the letters in the title are now lowercase, which hints at the more subdued vibe of the song. Just like a dream, it gives us that feeling of familiarity, with a sense of mystique. It is a serene close to the album.
Overall, this was a very creative and unique first album. Amber is not afraid to try new things and fuse new sounds together to enhance parts of a track. In addition, she is not afraid to tell her story and reveal personal struggles or mistakes she has made in her life. It seemed as if she took her diary and accompanied it with music. Hopefully we will not have to wait so long for her next album, but if we do, it will be well worth the wait.
Good at Falling is now available on sites like Spotify and Apple Music.
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