Release Date: Mar 1, 2019
Record label: Dirty Hit
With a debut album, timing is everything. Too quick, and it can fall on deaf ears, too much unknown in its significant running length. Too long, and any initial buzz has long worn off, an opportunity missed. The Japanese House, however, arrives at ‘Good At Falling’ with steady momentum, carved out over four EPs that saw her graduate from introverted, hushed bedroom pop to fleshed-out, soaring pop.
2015's double EP drop of Pools to Bathe In and Clean demonstrated the two varying ends of an intriguing spectrum. Their title tracks were wildly different, the first a sweet string number that collapses in on itself, sentiment smashed by twitching electronic beats. Meanwhile, 'Clean' was more straight-down-the-line sad-pop, that pulled desperately at the heart on your sleeve, the anguish masked in hazy electronica.
The solo electro-pop musician was an enigma when she first arrived, but this accomplished debut album makes damn sure you won't forget her In 2015, Amber Bain - aka The Japanese House - released her debut EP 'Pools To Bathe In'. At this point, her moniker was shrouded in mystery, with the EP being released alongside limited press images and as a result got fan’s tongues wagging about who The Japanese House actually was; but one thing that people agreed on was that her four-song collection of glitchy indietronica was excellent. Over the past few years, Bain has dropped three more gorgeous EPs, her glorious own brand of shimmering electropop getting stronger as she has further found her artistic voice.
When Amber Bain began releasing music as the Japanese House in 2015, the British singer-songwriter kept her identity a mystery. She avoided photos and interviews, maintained a low social-media profile, and let her distorted, androgynous vocals fuel the rumor mill. The tactic generated plenty of hype--many wondered if the songs were a secret side project of The 1975's Matt Healy--but Bain wasn't fully committed.
Good at Falling is one of those albums best enjoyed with a cider in hand, the sun shining on you on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon. This is actually how I enjoyed it, while the impending doom that our planet is screwed as it shouldn't be this hot in late February creeps looming somewhere in my psyche, making this a bittersweet moment. Frankly this may be a farfetched introduction for this debut album by The Japanese House, but it resonates as the most fitting description of it.
Won't you give yourself a try? Perhaps next time? The Japanese House, consisting of solo artist Amber Bain, is an electronic/indie-pop act that maintains a very close relationship with The 1975. Bain's first tour was as the band's opening act, and since then George Daniel (drums) has produced many of her tracks, while Matt Healy (vocals) appears on Good at Falling, her full-length debut. Any time two artists share a stage or a studio, there is bound to be creative overlap.
T he evolution of The Japanese House has been a lesson in slowly peeling back the layers. The musical moniker of Buckinghamshire-born Amber Bain (the name inspired by a childhood holiday home once owned by Kate Winslet) was part of a concerted attempt to use generalities as opposed to specifics. That also meant there were no press pictures to accompany her early EPs of skittering electronic hymnals, while her voice was often buried beneath ghostly, often androgynous effects.
Beginning as a collection of demos recorded in Amber Bain's bedroom, these stories of her recent breakup appear as tales straight from her diary as everything is laid bare. It's a personal and vulnerable set of stories but the confident delivery and purring pop rushes see the melancholic messages act as an invitation to dance. Lifelong influences like The Beach Boys, Bon Iver and James Blake are clear throughout, Amber Bain's harmonies and sampling methods, a constant feature of The Japanese House sound, are executed perfectly here.