The Japanese House Reflects on the Cyclical Nature of Life on New Album, ‘In the End It Always Does’

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Credit: Jay Seba

Recommended tracks: “Indexical reminder of a morning well spent”, “Sunshine Baby”, One for sorrow, two for Joni Jones”
Artists you may like: MUNA, No Rome, The 1975

The Japanese House graced us with her new album, In the End It Always Does, on June 30th via Dirty Hit Records and it is a fluid and poetic treasure from start to finish.

The Japanese House (aka Amber Bain) is well-known for her emotional lyrics, her distorted harmonies, and her overall experimental style of weaving guitars, synths, and vocals together to make listeners feel as if they’re in a dream. Historically leaning more towards electronic production, on this album we get a taste of her poppier side, and we’re loving it. Catchy upbeat tracks intermingle with surprising musical twists and insightful lyrics to create In the End It Always Does, an album exploring the cyclical nature of relationships and of life itself. If you want a taste of the album, start with the official live film:

“Spot Dog” starts us off, opening with a slightly chaotic piano rhythm backed by vintage radio-esque synths. This instrumental opener is in line with the typical style of The Japanese House that we’ve come to know and love. This arrangement, produced by Amber Bain herself, showcases her talent for combining somewhat turbulent elements into a flowing and beautiful musical landscape with its own message supported by minimal lyrics. 

“Touching Yourself” jumps back into this world with a sunny guitar and lyrics about a more concrete topic: sexting. But as the lyrics progress, we hear that this is really a track about being far from someone important to you. This poppy track is fun and upbeat, but it’s here that we encounter the first inkling of the cycle with the lyric “if you think things will change you’re kidding yourself”. You can watch the live music video here:

“Sad to Breathe”, one of the album’s singles, brings things down a notch at first. Suddenly, the song speeds things up with the second chorus and despite the melancholy lyrics, Bain has us bopping along even as she confronts the end of a relationship. The soft piano and drums in the following “Over There” have a bit of a jazzy ballroom feel. Vocal harmonies emphasize the lyric “do you like it over there”, where Bain is clearly asking about the new person in her ex’s life and confronting the flood of emotions that come with losing someone.

“Morning Pages” is a collaboration with MUNA’s Katie Gavin, whose vocals are present in the second verse. This track more strongly addresses the cycles of relationships with the repetition of the lyric “you always come back to her”. “Boyhood”, the album’s lead single, ties the halfway point of the album together. 

The following “Indexical reminder of a morning well spent” is pretty stripped down musically compared to the rest of the album. The lyrics are cryptic and alluring, simple yet meaningful, reminiscent of a lot of The Japanese House’s older work. It’s a mysterious and intimate glance into her inner world as she sings “I watch it round and round and round”, referring again to the repetitiveness of life when you’re in a comfortable relationship.

The upbeat “Friends” is slightly reminiscent of one of The 1975’s songs, “What Should I Say?”. Sunny, electronic, and coyly returning to the theme of sex, the collaboration with George Daniels of The 1975 is clear. “Sunshine Baby”, another of the album’s singles, features Matty Healy of The 1975, one of Bain’s good friends and mentors. Here, the message of the album smacks us in the face with the lyric “everything is cyclical”. This is also the song containing the album’s namesake lyric. Watch the live video here:

“Baby goes again” starts off with a folksy guitar. In this track, Bain plays cleverly with the nickname “baby”, using it to refer both to someone else and to herself in different ways. “Baby” is her everything, but this person comes and goes in an unhealthy cycle, at which point she calls herself a baby for not being able to handle it. In the following “You always get what you want”, Bain’s voice is raw, clean, and vulnerable as she sings about a past lover who wants to keep both her new love interest and her former one around.

“One for sorrow, two for Joni Jones” is the last of the album’s singles. This emotional track is an appropriate closer as it grapples with identity struggles and the end of something significant. Bain again visits the idea of thinking that maybe things will change, but knowing deep down that they won’t. The end of this track cuts off quite abruptly, jarring the listener and almost leaving us on a cliffhanger.

The overarching theme of the songs on this album is that in the end, something always seems to go wrong. Despite the upbeat energy of many of these songs, there’s always something darker hovering in the background: the urge to enjoy the present situation while you can because you know it might be ending soon. This idea sneaks up on us in subtle poetic lyrics throughout the album, putting a tiny stain of bittersweet sorrow on every happy memory. Fans both new and old will love Bain’s poppy take on the ideas explored on the dazzling and relatable In the End It Always Does

Listen to In the End It Always Does here.

KEEP UP WITH THE JAPANESE HOUSE:
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