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The Deli Philly's August Record of the Month: Soft Sounds From Another Planet - Japanese Breakfast





The Deli Philly's August Record of the Month: Soft Sounds From Another Planet - Japanese Breakfast

Released last month by Japanese Breakfast, the solo project of ex-Post Post/ex-Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner, Soft Sounds From Another Planet begins with the crisp snare and buzzing synth of “Diving Woman”. Reminiscent of theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore and the chilling soundtrack of sci-fi classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, the LP’s opener is bittersweet and atmospheric. Zauner’s lush vocals entrance with ease, wooing listeners with delicate bravado and immaculate execution, alongside swelling undertones of intimacy and unapologetic appetite. By the time she utters, “I want it all,” you will find yourself transported elsewhere via the frenetic hum of tender chords and reverb. A well-placed primer to the rhythmic pulse of “Road Head,” Soft Sounds From Another Planet’s first track is a seduction of sorts that deepens as the album progresses.

Dreamlike and hypnotically romantic, the confessional candidness of “Road Head” brings to mind Porches’ “Hour” and the brooding lust of Trust’s darkest cuts. The directness of Zauner’s narratives continues with “Machinist,” as she addresses her audience without hesitation. Oscillating between auto-tune and whispers, the melodic integrity of this anthem lies in its delectably retro aura, palpable immediacy, and abrupt end that quickly bleeds into the hushed drama of “Planetary Ambience,” at memorable preface to the album’s title track.  More of a proclamation of healing than a song about heartbreak, this gentle yet gripping ballad makes a promise that doubles as a warning: “I’ll never let you hurt me.”

Similarly, “Boyish” extends this theme with a subdued and maudlin melodrama à la Skeeter Davis and Camera Obscura. It is a tale of fractured desire and lovers on the brink of separation. Earnest like Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie, “Boyish” says what so few songs dare to, with unadulterated spirit and finesse. “12 Steps” (named after an iconic bar all too familiar to South Philly locals) channels the moody thrill of Veruca Salt’s “All Hail Me” and the swagger of Hole’s “Violet” but with an effervescent sense of empathy and affection rather than angst. It’s a love song with teeth.

“Jimmy Fallon Big!” is awash in ethereal echoes and crashing cymbals, two elements that reverberate in listeners’ minds long after its outro dissipates into the catchy hook of “The Body Is a Blade.” Through mantra-ready lines like “channel something good,” Zauner offers her audiences a methodology for not merely hope but survival. “Till Death” is an intoxicating portrait of the postmodern psyche, coupled with heartwarming horns and amorous irony, a pairing that effortlessly sets the mood for the haunting truth of “This House”. Like a Cat Power’s “Metal Heart” or Jenny Lewis in her most contemplative state, the strength of this record’s second to last track lies in its refusal to sugarcoat the trauma of human intimacy and its ability to honor the ways in which we are shaped by our pasts. Amplified by the toll of “Here Come the Tubular Bells,” the weight of “This House” and all that comes before it becomes a melodic meditation on what it means to honor and proclaim one’s truth. – Dianca London

This Emerging Artist is based in Philadelphia,
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