The Japanese House

Good at Falling

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English singer/songwriter Amber Bain spent a few years crafting lush, atmospheric, and romantic indie pop with her project the Japanese House, delivering captivating and introspective songs on EPs such as 2015's Pools to Bathe In and Clean. Having amassed a backlog of material with Dirty Hit Records and earning a burgeoning fan base, here she delivers her first full-length, Good at Falling. Consisting of 13 brand-new songs, the record was co-produced with George Daniel of the 1975. Bain's ability to deliver courageously honest lyrics about past relationships and struggling with their aftermath within the framework of tightly knit pop tracks has been evident since she came onto the scene. Her talents have come full-circle here, with lush, crystalline production techniques -- some tracks traverse the ethereal, reverb-laden vibes that she has explored before; others are more upbeat, '80s-ish noir pop with bright acoustic guitar and percussion timbres that recall the work of artists such as Kate Bush and Nena. One highlight is "Wild," a song that begins with heavily reverbed guitar leads, filtered beats that bubble beneath minor chords, and forlorn double-tracked vocals. However sad the song seems to be lyrically, the chorus presents a somewhat hopeful and passionate vibe that’s as sonically nostalgic as the lyrics themselves, with its staccato synth, thudding kick drum, and Theremin effects encapsulating Bain's yearning vocals. The track is immediately followed by the more upbeat "You Seemed So Happy," its summer-laden guitar chords and galloping bassline carry the song to a wide chorus in which Bain's vocals convey a sadness focused on the better moments shared with someone who may have been lost forever. One surefire highlight is the album's centerpiece, "Lilo." Delivering more filtered beats and rich, resonant synth, Bain sings, "I needed someone to depend upon, I was alone, I was emotional, Searching for the right emoticon, to expand my mental lexicon." It's one of the most tender and honest moments on the whole record. Good at Falling is an extremely impressive debut LP from a songwriter who's more than proved that she's unafraid to delve into the melancholy parts of her past and wrap them up in dreamlike, atmospheric songs which are accessible for various kinds of music fans without ever sounding too saccharine.

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