2017, Music

Soft Sounds From Another Planet (2017) by Japanese Breakfast

This is an appealing dream pop-esque record that has enough relative diversity to keep things interesting.

The sound varies rather widely, from what I might call post-shoegaze indie rock to a song that is basically dance pop. At their loudest, they are clearly influenced by shoegaze, with a fair amount of guitar noise prominent in the mix, though never enough to overwhelm. But some of the tracks, including some of the ballads, are far more sedate. I do think “dream pop” often covers the sound of the instrumental tracks – except at their danciest – but lead singer Michelle Zauner sings conventionally, and doesn’t usually go in for the dream pop singing style, a plus in my mind.

I do think the mix could be a little better. There’s often a lot going on between the guitars, keyboards and backing vocals and sometimes there could be a little more clarity. It does seem to depend a little bit on the style of the track. It’s far from a fatal issue but I do think the album would hit a little better with a little better mix. Maybe it’s my shitty headphones, though, as I seem to be saying this a lot lately.

The songs are pretty decent. Zaunder has a decent sense of melody but, more importantly, she seems comfortable writing in some different styles. One of the complaints I have about (some of) the genres that inspire this band is the relative sameness of the sound: too many dream pop (and shoegaze!) bands spend their careers honing their aesthetic to the point where it just really sounds similar (to the point where you can easily identify some of them even if you’ve never heard a particular song). That is not so here, at least to my ears, as there are songs that recall other genres even if they are arranged, more often than not, as if they were dream pop songs.

This is pretty good. I would be interested in listening to their other records.


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