Japanese Breakfast Jubilee Dead Oceans
Korean-American musician and writer Michelle Zauner’s indie rock project Japanese Breakfast has been unquestionably guided by the invisible hand of her late mother, Chongmi. Zauner’s debut, Psychopomp, which features Chongmi on its cover, and follow-up, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, are all informed by grieving maternal loss and trying to smile through the tears. Her latest offering, aptly titled Jubilee, is the sound of those small pockets of joy finally breaking through.
The atmospheric distortions that defined Japanese Breakfast’s initial sound are still intact. Songs like Posing in Bondage, a tender reflection on closeness told through vocal layering and low blaring horns, and the string-driven Tactics, evoke a feeling of floating in space. In Hell, another gentle musing on absence and the dark it leaves behind – “Hell is finding someone to love/ And I can’t see you again” – is bolstered by a pop rock sensibility that punctures the emotional tension.
But Zauner was careful to not speak of this record as one that exists purely outside of her mourning. Instead, it’s one that works in tandem with it. These songs have a deep zest for life despite the knowledge of its fleeting nature. With Jubilee, Zauner honours her past and pushes forward, urging us all to do the same.