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July 14, 2017 Stevie Ervay

Dead Oceans

Michelle Zauner, as Japanese Breakfast, has always flirted with experimental sound stylings. Ethereal, poppy, synthy, dreamy; all accurate representations of what to expect on a Japanese Breakfast record. But Soft Sounds From Another Planet takes that to a whole new level, almost as if Zauner hit full stride in her creative direction.

2016’s Psychopomp was a brilliant piece of work, exploring the grieving process brought on by the passing of Zauner’s mother. Soft Sounds is nothing like this. Soft Sounds From Another Planet is more closely aligned with a concept album, without being a bonafide concept album. Zauner inspects escaping the earth as a form of catharsis, exploring elements of science fiction, most notable in the cheeky music videos for “Road Head” and “Machinist.”

The experimentalist vibe is present throughout the 12 tracks. Songs that are whirring layers of vocal melodies, seemingly out-of-place saxophone solos, poignant harpsichord riffs, tubular bells. All things that sound a little crazy on surface, but are perfectly worked into the songs. Zauner is a master at making a song that carries elements of pop, but with a smart twist.

Through the 12 shimmering tracks, Japanese Breakfast takes listeners on a soaring journey in a truly exceptional way. Each song will get anchored in your head in some way or another. With lyrics that resonate and tunes that are all too catchy. Soft Sounds From Another Planet is a tough contender to Psychopomp, and may warrant just as much acclaim, if not more.