Amber Bain a.k.a. The Japanese House has slowly been tearing away her mask as her career has been growing, after what was much a beguiling mystery behind her identity in 2015. But now, with the release of her hotly-anticipated debut album Good At Falling – arriving four years after her debut EP Pools to Bathe In – Bain is stripped of all enigma for one of her most beautifully evocative and bravely honest bodies of music to date.
Its conception, which spanned over three years whilst on the road, trails a period in Bain’s life that was both emotionally draining and transformative. Working with BJ Burton (Bon Iver, Francis and the Lights) and George Daniel of The 1975, the musician is sonically at her finest as the deftly-produced album oozes with bittersweet pop.
What this album does so shrewdly is invite the listener to delve below the surface of the glistening melodies to seek the sorrow of her lyricisms, allowing for up-beat tracks in a live setting without losing its meaning. Sparing no riddles to her breakup with fellow musician Marika Hackman on single ‘Lilo’, the orchestral melancholy of ‘Marika Is Sleeping’ details this further. As sorrowful chords resonate through a Mellotron, trembling guitar lines reveal the stinging of impending heartbreak.
The culmination of the relationship is brilliantly narrated on ‘We Talk All The Time’, closing the chapter for listeners. Through the pervasion of punching drums, it creates a brash backdrop as she sings “we don’t fuck anymore, but we talk all the time so it’s fine”, navigating the post-break-up stage as the intimacy fades and friendship remains.
In its immense 80s-tinged production, melodic clarity can sometimes be hazy on intro track ‘Went To Meet Her’ through a desire to collide eerie nuances against autotuned vocals and space-esque samples. Yet, throughout the record, sharp anthemic pop songs are plentiful. ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’ creates a stunning pop dreamscape to soundtrack her existential crisis, with glimmers of optimism as the chorus crashes in sullen riffs. In a similar vein, ‘Follow My Girl’ pulsates as the vocal samples build the groove-fuelled chorus, as Bain croons the refrain “nothing feels good, it’s not right.”
Following the tumultuous emotions Bain has inscribed throughout these songs, comes a stunningly-written love song and acoustic track to close. Inspired by 70s pop, ‘F a r a w a y’ blends warped electro-pop synths with hazy harmonies as Bain yearns to be off tour and back home with her love, feeling tenderly warm. ‘I Saw You In A Dream’ revisits her 2017 single in an acoustic setting, adding to her vulnerable and wistful storytelling on this album, as she softly ends the record.
What Bain has achieved with this record is more experimental, comprehensive and painstakingly honest that what many artists dare to achieve on their debut album. After what has been years waiting in expectation for this record, the musician’s discography now feels more fulfilled as she embraces complete honesty and fearless production. Whether you listen to this and relate meanings to your friends, relationships or life, Bain has certainly made us all good at falling in love with her sound.
Good At Falling is released on 1 March 2019 via Dirty Hit.