Album Review: The Japanese House – Good at Falling

6 mins read
The Japanese House - New 2
Credit: Ian Cheek Press

The Japanese House, an indie pop act consisting of solo artist Amber Bain, is set to release her debut album on the 1st of March. The album was produced in collaboration with George Daniel from the 1975 and BJ Burton. Having begun as a DIY project on her laptop in her London flat, the album was recorded and finished in four cities across the world – London, Oxford, Brussels and Wisconsin.

For her debut album Bain draws on her personal life, making the songs and the overall album very raw and hard-hitting. Though primarily based on her recent break-up with former partner Marika, to whom she dedicates a song, Bain discusses depression, coming to terms with her sexuality, and the societal pressures we kneel to.

We see love come and go throughout life, as a repetitive cycle. We fall in and out of love with friends, family and complete strangers. As we grow we begin to learn to see the patterns and understand the cycle. But nothing hurts, or blindsides you more than the first time you fall out of love. The nostalgia of your first heartbreak is felt throughout the album.

Beginning with the wild and exciting track went to meet her. As an intro it is capitivating! With its jungle feel and many animalistic sounds, it reminds of your wild and uncontrollable emotions and thoughts, spinning you round, draining, but fueling you. Giving you these crazy highs and lows. An all encompassing whirlwind.

However, this exhilaration doesn’t last for very long and we quickly move onto more sombre tracks like We Talk all the Time, Wild, and You Seemed so Happy. We Talk all the Time discusses the plateau. When we slowly and reluctantly begin to remove the rose-coloured glasses. Much like in the five stages of grief, this is when we begin to bargain. “We don’t fuck anymore, but we talk all time” so its alright. Or, not? Bain bravely discusses the plateau her relationship comes to in this song. Their lack of intimacy being beautifully masked by ample communication. The beginning of an end.

A common misconception we suffer from is that one must hate to fall out of love. And that falling out of love is linked to falling into new love. There must always be another, a better, a new. Or why would this one end? But like anything in life, love comes and goes. Sometimes love comes in the form of a one-way ticket, other times it’s an open return. We are ever-changing and paths cross and diverge all the time. You don’t have to hate each other to fall out of love, sometimes it just happens and you move into different directions.

The Japanese House - New 3
Credit: Ian Cheek Press

Though inspired by her past relationship Good at Falling does not solely discuss love. In Follow My Girl, an indie dreampop track, Bain invites the listener into her mind. We start to see some of the struggles she has faced due to her sexuality. Contemplating her journey to acceptance, and the growing pains it came with, stating “everyone has different ways of living, and mine was unforgiving”. Bain also discusses the societal pressures of being single. Loneliness is often connoted with being alone, however this is not the proper dennotation of either term. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely, nor are you destined to be lonely if you are alone.

For her closer, Bain transports her audience into a dreamworld trance through her more acoustic vibes. Its about dreaming of your loved ones when they’re gone. A strange feeling of closeness, but blatant distance. They are only imagined, yet somehow feel so present. Bain greatly suffered from the sudden death of a close friend. The loss of her friend was the first time she was faced with the concept of death, prior to this loss she had never deliberated with the fact that people die. i saw you in a dream is a beautiful end to her album. Though you may never be in control of who, and when someone comes and goes into your life. You will always be in control of what remains in your heart, and the memories you chose to cherish as well as the ones you chose to leave behind. We are resilient beings, and time heals all wounds, even the ones that leave scars behind.

Creating an album, let alone a debut album is terrifying in itself. Creating a debut album unraveling your personal life, fears and anxieties to complete strangers is applaud worthy. Having previously never heard of The Japanese House, I have surprisingly become a big fan and will be on the look out for future EPs and albums.

Score: 4/5
Bain is set to begin her UK tour on the 11th of March and will be playing in The Caves in Edinburgh on the 18th.
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