The Japanese House Essentials

Apple Music
The Japanese House Essentials

When The Japanese House released the densely crafted, mesmerizing “Still” in 2015, no one really knew what they were listening to. There was that mysterious name, plus the song’s distorted, layered, and androgynous vocals (which sparked rumours that Matty Healy of The 1975 was behind it—the artists share a label). Eventually though, Amber Bain revealed herself. And since then, the Buckinghamshire-born singer-songwriter (who makes much of her music with another member of The 1975: drummer and producer George Daniel) has let her guard down, her music gradually becoming lighter, her heart moving closer to her sleeve in increasingly intimate, up-front lyricism. There have been embraces of glinting ’80s synth pop (“Face Like Thunder”) and jaunty indie pop (on the high-low “You Seemed So Happy,” which—as much of Bain’s music does—pairs devastating lyrics with upbeat, shoulder-shaking melodies). Then there are unadorned vocals (“Saw You in a Dream”) and floating, water-like electropop (the aptly-named “Lilo,” a note-perfect track about ex-girlfriend and fellow indie singer-songwriter Marika Hackman). And, by 2023’s second album In the End It Always Does, Bain was ready to step away from her computer and the bedroom-pop production that had made her famous in favour of, as she told Apple Music, “classic sounds: really nice guitars, really nice strings, really nice pianos” and unashamed pop. Cue the acoustic dance of “Boyhood,” the bright guitars of “Sunshine Baby,” and the gentle keys and soft vocals that open heartbreak anthem “Sad to Breathe.”

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