• December 10, 2023

Japanese Breakfast’s Sunny New Album

The musician Michelle Zauner, who appears as Japanese Breakfast, shows herself ready to embrace joy in all its forms. After years of Process death and trauma, Zauner exudes a certain hopeful conviction with her new music. It feels like she pushed her way through the mist and found the sun basking in its warmth. The creative boom of an artist rarely coincides with her Mainstream breakthrough, but it doesn’t feel like a coincidence with Zauner. Her best-selling memoir “Crying in H Mart“And their new album” Jubilee “are both milestones in development, and the latter is the search for a fully realized sound. “I thought about what musicians with a long career would do with their third albums,” says Zauner said Pitchfork, March. “I would like to believe that by then things will really become clear, that it should sound really confident.”

Zauner’s career as a Japanese Breakfast is mainly characterized by losses. Born in Seoul and raised in Oregon, Zauner led several smaller projects in college until she founded the emo band Little Big League in Philadelphia. After two albums, the band broke up when bassist Deven Craige left to play in another group he thought would be more popular. In 2014, Zauner moved back to Oregon to care for her mother, who had cancer. She wrote her first album “Psychopomp” in 2016, two months after her mother’s death. “Forbidding me to write about this experience felt really wrong,” she said said Spin. Her mother and the afterimages left by her death are an integral part of Zauner’s music. The depictions of this empty space are poignant and unforgettable: a confused dog sniffing around a now vacant room, a person clearing shelves of memorabilia, a shot of a deceased woman telling her daughter not to cry.

“Psychopomp” takes its name from the mythological creatures that lead souls to the afterlife, and Zauner’s hazy, distant music often hung as if in this temporary state – caught between the mortal shell and somewhere behind it. In 2017, Zauner released a science-fiction-inspired sequel to Dead Oceans entitled “Soft Sounds from Another Planet,” in which she thought more abstractly about death. “Part of it comes from the fact that I had to talk about it so much last year and also so many children come to me after the shows that I realize that my personal experiences are so small on the whole of the world.” you said Interview magazine. Often times, these two albums, and their recently released memoirs, are about being cut off from the lingering remnants of grief, or like it once did Put itto be left alone in a room with no doors. But their music also seemed to show some kind of way forward. “Don’t try to be so fair / about what’s fair for everyone,” she sings in “The Body Is a Blade” from 2017. “Find what’s left in you / channel something good.”

Zauner’s new Japanese breakfast album “Jubilee” tries actively to channel good things. She said straight out that it was about joy, but this theme is not directly manifested in a narrative or aural way. The bizarre songs that shuffle across the indie and pop levels are as much about finding and receiving joy as they are about experiencing it. The album is full of glowing arrangements and hopeful storytelling that seem to trigger a fulfilling out of body experience. Your voice sparkles. It’s pliable, sometimes layered and liberated. The music is lush in places and smooth in others, starting with an explosion of colors – the maximalist horn procession of “Paprika”, the glitzy eighties pop of “Be Sweet” – before settling into a blissful rhythm.

Zauner’s conscious turning away from personal hardship as a songwriting incentive (despite the track “In Hell”) has its own relief. The creative process itself is more fun. The songs are optimistic and lively and move deliberately towards catharsis. Paprika enjoys the luxury of making a living from music, and that euphoria is contagious. On “Slide Tackle” Zauner sings about freeing the mind from negativity. Most of the songs are not autobiographical, and Zauner engages in broader collaborations and experiments. She helped compose string and horn arrangements for the first time, and some of the songs came about in 2018 from a transition to fixed writing sessions with staff. The compositions of “Jubilee”, which were produced with longtime collaborator (and now bandmate) Craig Hendrix, receive additional assists from Alex G, Jack Tatum from Wild Nothing, Ryan Galloway from Crying and others. It creates the feeling of a wider soundstage, like friends are allowed into the room.

There are also characters in songwriting that couldn’t have appeared on previous Japanese Breakfast albums. On “Savage Good Boy”, Zauner appears from the perspective of a would-be tycoon who flatters a woman into his doomsday hut while the world around her sinks into chaos. “A billion dollar bunker for two / and when the city is under water / I’ll give wine and food in the troughs / About an excess of freeze-dried food,” she sings happily. It’s a charming warning that even gratification should have its limits. On the flip side, “Kokomo, IN” follows an avid teenager who assures his high school girlfriend that moving away is for the best. The song dwells in the bittersweet joys of putting a loved one’s interests above your own so the two of you can grow. These are among the extended wonders of “Jubilee”. Zauner’s previous work had inwardness, but was more isolated and closed. These songs open up – to discover, to feel and to the possibility of a brighter morning.

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