On July 14th, Japanese Breakfast released her latest album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet through Dead Oceans Records. Soft Sounds from Another Planet shows a certain depth that makes the genre of indie-pop (the word indie makes me ralph) unfitting for the artistic endeavors of Michelle Zauner/Japanese Breakfast.
In a recent interview with Out.com, Zauner discusses the life events that inspired her album. She explores her culture, her family (specifically her mother), and her relationships. Unlike most pop albums, Soft Sounds from Another Planet explores the darker corners of life and the heart.
The album starts out very modern, yet Slowdive-esque with “Diving Woman”. It sets the listener on a path that goes through metaphors of the sea and unlit highways, tradition and technology. Through these images and metaphors, Japanese Breakfast explores grief, jealousy, detachment, and expectation.
“Road Head” is just as dreamy as it is heavy. The highways that are driven on throughout the song serve as a link between the ocean in “Diving Woman” and the cold metal and circuit boards of the next song, “Machinist” (check out the ultra-futuristic music video for the song).
A transition in theme and sound comes with “Planetary Ambiance”. It feels like a wormhole that is bridging the contrasting metaphors of the first three songs into a much different musical chapter. It feels like a mix of Hawaii and outer space that introduces us to romance and heart ache told through ballads from the 1950’s – like the fuller, almost orchestral arrangement of “Boyish”. However, the lyrics differ from. They aren’t light and they do not fit into a shallow pool of lovesickness that often accompanies such a sound. The lyrics are self critical and show a raw side of love, affection, and jealousy.
The 1950’s ballad sound is contrasted with a grrrl rock/Raincoats type of sound, as well as ambient dream-pop that keeps us from getting too heartsick, until the album ends serenely with the sound of church bells. Soft Sounds from Another Planet still has the sweetheart feeling that got people hooked on Japanese Breakfast’s previous release, Psychopomp, but it definitively shows that Michelle Zauner is much more than just indie-pop.
by Hayley Robertson