(Written by Ashley Flamenco)
“Soft Sounds from Another Planet” is, indie pop artist, Japanese Breakfast’s exquisitely dark and vulnerable recent work.
The album opens with “Diving Woman,” a song referring to a tradition in Korea where women dive underwater to catch their food, used as a way of metaphorically diving into the album.
Japanese Breakfast’s first album, “Psychopomp,” was written after Michelle Zauner’s mother passed away from cancer, documenting the trauma she experienced after her mother’s death including the vast amount of grief she dealt with. Making music has been a way for her to cope. “Soft Sounds from Another Planet” follows “Psychopomp” and takes us through her healing process while still addressing the topics of grief and death that are especially prominent in “Til Death,” a gloomy lullaby where she sings “Haunted dreams, stages of grief/ Repressed memories/ Anger and bargaining.”
The first few songs off the album are then followed by an interlude called “Planetary Ambiance” which sounds exactly like what you’d expect from the song based off the title that continues along with the spacey theme of the whole record that was interestingly, inspired by the Mars One Project.
This new record has a very 90s alternative pop-rock sound that’s reminiscent of bands like Mazzy Star and The Cranberries. And it helps that Michelle Zauner has a voice that sounds so much like the singer’s of Mazzy Star, adding to the similarities between the two’s music. The wavy guitar chords she plays such as in “12 Steps” also might remind you of guitar riffs that are often used by the grunge band Hole. If you’re a 90s alt-rock fan, this is especially for you.
After a few listens, I’ve grown to really love and appreciate this project. This is some of the most personal and intimate work I’ve listened to but it’s beautifully vulnerable in a way that has taught to me to appreciate life a little more.