I’m noticing that a lot of the artists I’m writing about in these year-end music reviews seem to be indie artists so ubiquitous that I didn’t feel the need to comment on. Japanese Breakfast is not one of those artists, though this solo project of Michelle Zauner might put her on her way, after delivering one of the more aptly titled albums of 2017. Because there’s something quite otherworldly about these songs, yet they’re raw and human enough to cut towards something a little deeper, and a little more Earthly.
For the most part, I would say this is good background music in the best possible sense. Music that can carry you through a mundane morning in which you’re not necessarily in the mood for music that will lift your spirits or drown you in low ones. It’s just good, comforting musical nourishment. But at the same time, there are moments on this record that sneak up you. The song “12 Steps” was one of my favorite “listen on repeat” songs, with a series of hooks that seem to build and build on each other towards an insatiable feeling of poppy bliss.
Then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s a brittle ballad like “Till Death”, which begins with the all too real lyric: “all our celebrities keep dying, while the cruel men continue to win”. It’s not a surprising moment, considering this project’s debut album was conceived out of Zauner’s desire to write about her mother being diagnosed with cancer. But as much of this album proves, a comforting voice and warm way of expressing it can always help you get through tough times.
Favorite Tracks: “Road Head”, “12 Steps”, “Till Death”