Japanese Breakfast — Both the Calm and Storm

Japanese Breakfast

I’m not sure if it’s always been this way, but it seems as though so many artists are forming side projects that convey a completely different sound than the music they normally produce. It’s always a very unique experience to listen to an artist that is exploring their musical abilities in ways that you’re not used to.

Michelle Zauner is the lead singer for the Philadelphia-based band Little Big League. She also created a side project in conjunction with Rachel Gagliardi of Slutever called Japanese Breakfast. The project started off as a one-month venture, but has turned into something seemingly more permanent. The latest album from Japanese Breakfast is called Psychopomp and was released on April 1. The album features nine tracks and showcases the experimental pop genre extraordinarily.

Japanese Breakfast Play Around with Pop Sounds

The first track from the album, “In Heaven,” starts off with quite the beautiful melody, but turns into something more electronic early on into the song. As soon as the vocals begin, I’m immediately reminded of The Cranberries. They are strangely similar, yet they seem to be placed on top of a very enchanting tempo. There’s a certain twinkle to the song that reminds me of fairies, whether they’re real or not. The sound of a violin dances in the background only momentarily, but definitely long enough to make a good impression.

The second track is titled “The Woman That Loves You,” and definitely has an indie vibe. There’s a repetitive beat to it in the beginning, but it isn’t unpleasantly repetitive. It’s perfect enough to get you into the song without throwing too much at you right away. It picks up as the chorus begins and keeps your attention throughout.

The third song, “Rugged Country,” gave me serious nostalgia right from the start. There was a Mary Kate and Ashley game that I used to play on my Game Boy Advanced in which you had to drive people around in your car and try not to crash. (I can’t remember the name for the life of me.) Anyway, there was a song that would constantly play on that game that I loved, and this song sounds very similar to that. It’s definitely got a late ’90s sound to it, and that’s something that always catches my attention. The drum aspect to the track brings a bit of an angsty sound to the song overall, and I think it blends perfectly with the vocals.

“Psychopomp” is the fifth song on the album, and I figured it would be fitting to cover this one because it is the title track, after all. The slight tapping on a cymbal adds a mysterious sound to this one, and the electronic aspect to it makes it sound extraterrestrial. This song features no vocals, however there’s a short recording of what sounds like a voicemail toward the end.

“Moon On The Bath” is one track that I had to cover. This one only lasts a minute and a half, but there seems to be so much depth to it. While I was listening to it, there seemed to be an overwhelmingly calming feeling that washed over me. It was almost like I was floating on a cloud and could fall asleep. Extremely relaxing, and honestly somewhat sad in nature, this would have to be one of the most influential tracks on the album. If you’re looking for vocals, however, this may not be the one for you.

In Psychopomp, Japanese Breakfast manages to balance nicely between angst and peacefulness. You’ll be able to find something you appreciate on this album, regardless of what your musical interests are.

Stream Psychopomp in full on Hype Machine.

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