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. On her debut album, all this progression and promise comes fantastically good.
Amber Bain’s music has always been personal, but meanings have often been shrouded under swathes of production. A world of personal upheaval during the writing and the recording of ‘Good At Falling’ meant her subject matter was unlikely to get more obtuse, but the real power of her long-awaited debut lies in the way these struggles are laid out. Throughout the record, she puts herself in the firing line and lays herself bare.
Despite the album singing of psychological torment (‘You Seemed So Happy’), dissatisfaction with the status quo (‘Follow My Girl’) and moving on from a defining relationship (‘Worms’) across the record, they’re transmitted via the poppiest music Amber has written to date. After reflecting on “Sharing a house, sharing a life, sharing a home” and how there’s “so much pressure not to be alone” in the verse of highlight ‘Worms’, when she preaches to “invest yourself in something worth investing in” in its big, bright chorus, it sounds like a message strong enough to tattoo across your chest in times when being alone feels just a bit too much to bear.
It’s not all about motivational mantras though. On the immediate ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’, she ponders an existential crisis before aiming for some sort of resolution on its huge chorus. ‘Follow My Girl’ is equally huge musically, and sings of feeling directionless. Suitably, in an album of juxtapositions, maybe the record’s catchiest soundbite comes in its chorus, when she painfully exclaims “nothing feels good, it’s not right”. There’s a power that comes from laying fears and anxieties out, admitting that answers can’t be immediately found. Cannily similar to the progression of The Japanese House’s music over the past few years, this exact approach has led her to a magical debut.