Review Summary: Won't you give yourself a try? Perhaps next time?
The Japanese House, consisting of solo artist Amber Bain, is an electronic/indie-pop act that maintains a very close relationship with The 1975. Bain’s first tour was as the band’s opening act, and since then George Daniel (drums) has produced many of her tracks, while Matt Healy (vocals) appears on Good at Falling
, her full-length debut. Any time two artists share a stage or a studio, there is bound to be creative overlap. Good at Falling
dabbles liberally in that commonality, creating something that the casual listener might coin as female-fronted 1975
– and as much as I despise umbrella generalizations, they wouldn’t be wrong.
Good at Falling
wastes no time in allowing such accusations to be levied: the supremely electronic and vocoder-ized intro, ‘went to meet her’, shares just about everything in common with The 1975’s recurring eponymous introduction. From there, it treads into all-too predictable territory; from the autotuned pop melody of ‘We Talk all the Time’ to the obligatory acoustic guitar interruption that comes by way of ‘You Seemed so Happy.’ There’s very little individuality injected into the album’s lifeblood, a facet of the music that breeds comfort over curiosity, offering listeners a second helping rather than a brand new dish. All of this is disappointing considering the immense potential of Bain as a vocalist and keyboardist.
With those criticisms carefully laid out, it would of course be foolish not to recognize the album’s obvious charisma. Good at Falling
brilliantly toes the line between the mainstream and niche, offering all-out pop anthems such as ‘Maybe You’re the Reason’ alongside sleepy electronic meanderings that feel more retracted from the limelight – thus allowing listeners to bask in the euphoria of accessible pop while still benefitting from gorgeous bedroom numbers like ‘somethingfartoogoodtofeel.’ More often than not, the true gems lie in Bain’s more subdued efforts, where the electronic effects are more deliberately defined and her voice is given ample opportunity to shine.
This is an album that will undoubtedly do quite well in electronic/indie-pop circles. The Japanese House’s close proximity to The 1975 makes it feel like a necessary counterpart; a sister project. Although Good at Falling
makes little headway into its own unique musical space, that’s something fans can hopefully expect in the future as Bain continues to distance herself from this vigilantly-traced launching pad. For now, here’s to another round of synth-laden pop balladry.