I’ve been enamored with Amber Bain, professionally known as The Japanese House, since seeing her open for label mates The 1975 in May of 2019. Since then, I’ve been able to see her two more times on her own headline tours, turning small bars with a capacity of 400 into venues triple that size due to the success of her sophomore album, “In the End It Always Does.”
Like most of her other work, the album released this past June circulates the themes of love, loss and the introspection that comes in tow. On “Touching Yourself,” the album’s most streamed song, Bain explores the ins and outs of long-distance relationships through weighty indie electronica spilling, “Know I shouldn’t need it, but I want affection / Know I shouldn’t want it, but I need attention / Know I shouldn’t say it, but I had to mention / It makes me wanna die every time I have to…”
The warm and upbeat instrumentals often contrast deeply depressive lyrics such as on “Sad to Breathe” (with backing vocals by The 1975’s own George Daniel) where it’s clear that Bain has been abandoned by a romantic partner, and finds it “sad to breathe the air” when they no longer are around. It feels like she is constantly dancing around the theme of air – grasping at or disappearing into it. On my personal favorite track, “Over There”, Bain pleads and reminisces through sparkly Prince-esque jazz, “Driving past the airfield / Flying by a memory / It’s almost like you lived here / It’s like you almost lived here / Where do you wanna go? / Did you wanna get some air?”
There seems to be a quest for wholeness in Bain’s life, and the discovery of whether that lies within another person, herself or both. Toward the second half of the record, we transition from dreary apathy into a sort of acceptance and confidence in being heartbroken. On “Sunshine Baby” she reflects through bright melody, “I miss my dog and I miss falling in love / I miss the feeling that you get when someone fits just like a glove / I can’t help but question, maybe this isn’t helping / Putting off the end ’cause in the end, it always does”.
As a fellow (reformed) heartbreak victim, I can’t help but empathize with Bain’s emotion-drenched lyricism and the surmounting conclusion that, sometimes, we can find the love we desire in simple places like strangers, sunsets and furry four-legged friends.