Japanese Breakfast Soft Sounds From Another Planet
Michelle Zauner of Philly emo outfit Little Big League went out on her own with last year’s Japanese Breakfast debut, Psychopomp, but follow-up Soft Sounds From Another Planet has established her as an indie-pop force. It begins with the syrupy “Diving Woman,” which evokes ’90s shoegaze and soft dream pop. Reverberating synths and a spiraling guitar hook dance around Zauner’s vocals, creating a dizzying effect that evokes images of the song’s subject—female divers, or haenyeo, in South Korea. Then there’s the single, “Road Head”: “You gave road head/on a turnpike exit/Going home, going home/Last ditch desperate, like a makeshift siphon.” Zauner simultaneously addresses the complexity of female sexuality and the vulnerability of failing love.
Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore LP is peppered with nods to bands like Spiritualized, Mazzy Star and Slowdive, but its second half takes on a streamlined approach more reminiscent of indie contemporaries like Waxahatchee. And while Zauner originally conceived of Soft Sounds as a concept album about outer space, the finished product speaks of more intimate themes, landing at the crossroads of love, fragility, confidence and strength.