hello! we’re kicking off a brand new discography review this week with Japanese Breakfast, the indie pop band that began as a side project for Michelle Zauner, who’s primary project was the emo group Little Big League until the release of the record we’ll be looking at today. Japanese Breakfast began its life to participate in some song projects, and has a few early EPs of those tracks, but their first full record is 2015’s Psychopomp.

In Heaven is a great opener here – that double strummin guitar, the space on the vocals, i dig it a lot. and the intro verse is incredible at conveying a feeling of loss. very cool track. and im a sucker for a smooth transition like the one into The Woman That Loves You, haha. dig the little bit of electric keyboard that punctuates the choruses here, and damn the delivery of the second verse is phenomenal. “leave this town” type tracks get a lot of shit in ska music, but no lie i really do like variations on that theme – Rugged Country is great as an entry in that style. using wedding bands as a relationship descriptor to a place is great, as is the chorus owning up to the idea that they do in fact fit the place thats hurting them. Everybody Wants to Love You is like, bubblegum to the point of cavity – like the emotions are being generated by a dream. a neat sense of unreality, imo. sick solo too. the title track Psychpomp, is interesting in that it is both short and so musically different from the rest of the record, given that it bisects the record like it does. Jane Cum is neat – the vocal performance here is impressive and raw. i mention below that i didnt find out about Zauner’s mother until after a few listens, but damn this one is the point where it shines though the strongest – that anxiety of inheriting death. Moon on the Bath is quiet and transitional, a pause before the closer. Triple 7 itself is slow and methodical. i get what its laying down and musically it feels very appropriate to close things out im kinda middling on it lyrically.

faves – In Heaven, Rugged Country, Everybody Wants to Love You
dislikes –

i didnt look into the context for the record until a few listens in, and so didnt know about the connections to Zauner’s mother passing and this record being a kind of processing of that grief, though i suspect the title of the record should have keyed me in a lot sooner. i think it changes a lot of the feelings i had about the tracks – i had originally read In Heaven as a type of break up, and the “damaged by staying in place” mood from Rugged Country feels very different under that interpretation, for example – but i dont think it flips too much on its head, just makes me think from a different angle.

on the whole, this was fantastic lyrically, as a tight picture of pain from nearing the end of a period of grief. musically, i liked how stripped down it felt, and how they played with Zauner’s voice, which was great throughout. neat record, and i’m excited to hear more!

Psychopomp – 7/10

next week we’ll be looking at their next record, Soft Sounds From Another Planet.

this is the beginning | next: Soft Sounds From Another Planet

all my reviews for Japanese Breakfast