By Zach Hester
Four years ago, the faceless artist known only as The Japanese House, came onto the scene as a new artist for listeners across the world to discover. Now in 2019 and with the release of her debut record, Good at Falling, Amber Bain, the woman behind the name, has truly come into her own.
As a whole, the record is the start-to-finish tumultuous relationship that eventually ends up being unsuccessful. It’s the downfall of a cherished romance that really defines most of the album, but other themes are explored too.
It’s a back and forth fight, not necessarily between the narrator and their partner, but somewhat between the narrator and their own head as they navigate this relationship. In the opening track “Maybe You’re the Reason”, Bain sings “Now I’m looking for something else / I found myself, I’m someone else”, a subtle sign at the very start that this romance might just not work.
“We Talk All the Time” discusses a lack of intimacy in the relationship, but “somethingfartoogoodtofeel” expands on nurturing the love you’ve grown. The lead single “Lilo” uses water imagery to explore how both partners are simply “floating along” in the relationship. My favorite song on the record, “Everybody Hates Me”, describes the couple’s broken relationship even though they still live together.
In addition to the relationship story that’s scattered across the record, there’s quite a bit of self-reflection from the narrator too. It’s in these songs like “Wild” and “You Seemed so Happy” that we find that the narrator is examining her own psyche with her inner turmoil being compared to the happiness she displays on the outside.
The final song on the album “i saw you in a dream” breaks the breakup vibe with a tender message about the loss of a friend, but still seeing them in your head and dreams. The lyrics say, “All good things come to an end / But I thought that this might last / But you came and left so fast.”
In the debut from The Japanese House (co-produced by labelmates from The 1975), we receive an honest, breakup album that has a lot to say about love with more than a few hints of self-reflection along the way. It’s a beautiful story displayed with an electronic meets primal sound and Bain’s exceptional, transitional vocals (shout out to her amazing low register). I’ll definitely remember this record when it stands alongside the pack at the end of the year for my Best of 2019 List.
Best Songs: Lilo, Everybody Hates Me, You Seemed so Happy