Japanese Breakfast
Jubilee


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale CONTRIBUTOR (29 Reviews)
June 4th, 2021 | 157 replies


Release Date: 06/04/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: From “INDIE pop” to “Indie POP”

Michelle Zauner, the musician between the moniker Japanese Breakfast, has been having a moment to start off 2021. Her newly-published memoir became a New York Times bestseller, she’s recently appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s and Trevor Noah’s popular shows, and the singles of her third album Jubilee have received (for her) unprecedented chart attention. The question is where this leaves the musical direction of her newest LP.

In her aforementioned Trevor Noah interview, Zauner claimed that while her first two records focused on “grief and loss”, “ Jubilee is about joy”. I doubt anyone who has heard either 2016’s Psychopomp or 2017’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet would question this description of their fairly somber tone, so these statements suggest a fairly dramatic musical transformation. Ultimately, Jubilee bursts through the speakers with higher production values, crisp instrumentation, and more obviously catchy stylings than Japanese Breakfast has ever pursued before. In effect, Jubilee sees Zauner leaning more towards the “pop” side of indie pop rather than the previously dominant “indie” side.

In fact, it’s immediately clear that this is a new kind of Japanese Breakfast album, with the shining opener “Paprika” followed by “Be Sweet”, the most catchy track on the LP, with its glistening 80s-influenced sound. The third song, “Kokomo, IN” is a sleek and dreamy “sound of the summer” tune as well. Late in the tracklist, “Savage Good Boy” is another obvious single, with its propulsive catchiness and biting lyrics. Even a track like “In Hell”, which Zauner notes is about the death of her dog, glimmers with energy and a sunny vibe. The album’s closing one-two punch of the tender ballad “Tactics” and “Posing In Cars”, with its extensive, emotional guitar solo, mix things up a bit, but retain the summery essence of the record’s sound. From start to finish, this is an elegant and energetic indie pop experience. While one could gripe that, for an (at-least) pop-adjacent record, the hooks are a bit thin at times, ultimately the glowing and engrossing atmosphere and the reasonably diverse instrumentation makes up for it.

The headline of this review, and likely in most discussions of this album, is that Japanese Breakfast has turned over a new leaf. While true, it’s a question of degrees. There’s a greater level of continuity with Zauner’s previous work under the Japanese Breakfast label than you’d think, and this album absolutely does not feel bland and faceless, as one may fear from the “gone pop” narrative. There’s a lot of individualized personality to find here, with lyrics typically introspective (if perhaps more upbeat than in the past) and featuring the regular sexual references which have flecked Zauner’s prior records (just listen to “Posing In Bondage” or “Sit”). In addition, especially in the album’s second half, there’s a fair amount of musical diversity to be found. As such, Jubilee feels heartfelt, no matter the production values and the intended catchiness.The early June release date was a wise decision, as this is a colorful summer album to the core.



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user ratings (123)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This has been on repeat all day, wanted to get a review out to allow discussion.



Great stuff, this is going to be on rotation all summer for me for sure.

Slex
June 4th 2021


11440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is so good

Digging: The Raging Nathans - Waste My Heart

nash1311
June 4th 2021


2568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This underwhelmed me. Not sure if my expectations were too high. I love it musically, but none of the vocal melodies really hook me

Digging: White Ward - Love Exchange Failure

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@nash1311, I do get where you're coming from, I think the hooks and melodies could be somewhat stronger to take this to the next level. That said, what is here works quite well for me and it's a quite great release in my book.

WatchItExplode
June 4th 2021


8892 Comments


Still killing it Sunny... listening now.

Digging: Islands - Islomania

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers @WatchItExplode! What do you think of it?

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


3086 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hell yeah sunny! jammed this twice today and it's nice but kinda lacking some standout moments/real memorable hooks etc. think it'll be a nice n comfy 3.5 tho!

Digging: The Buildings - Heaven is a Long Exhale

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


14137 Comments


great review Sunny, got me interested in giving this one a try

Digging: Sweet Trip - A Tiny House, In Secret Speeches, Polar Equals

Ryus
June 4th 2021


23809 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

soft sounds was aight, guess i'll check this

WatchItExplode
June 4th 2021


8892 Comments


This is all very pleasant and nice and quirky probably a 3.5. that said I don't know that there was anything that stood out enough for me to even want to revisit. It will stay in the rotation for a bit to see what happens.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2021


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Jesper and YoYo!



@WatchItExplode, fair enough, that's a reasonable assessment, I think this one's just hitting a bit harder for me.

WatchItExplode
June 4th 2021


8892 Comments


I think I'm just looking for things that HIT HARDER right now

nash1311
June 4th 2021


2568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"This is all very pleasant and nice and quirky probably a 3.5. that said I don't know that there was anything that stood out enough for me to even want to revisit."



[2]

Let
June 4th 2021


1900 Comments


So this is her art angles. Loved the track produced by Wild Nothing, I'll have to listen to the whole thing rn. Nice review

Digging: Sweet Trip - A Tiny House, In Secret Speeches, Polar Equals

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 5th 2021


38099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

woah never even heard a song by her before but this is great

Digging: Bruno Pernadas - Private Reasons

tom79
June 5th 2021


3800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've listened to this twice, really enjoyable record, something I'll surely revisit this summer. I felt there was a slight lull in the middle (Posing in Bondage/Sit) but those songs will probably grow on me. I think this might be her best yet, overall. Also great review!

Digging: Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
June 5th 2021


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to hear you're enjoying, Sowing! Her other stuff is nice too, you might like all of it.



Thanks @Let and @tom79!

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 5th 2021


45242 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

this is really damn good so far. feels like a step above her past stuff, Paprika is wild

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 5th 2021


45242 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

closer is colossal on this

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
June 5th 2021


2404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers Rowan! Yeah, I think this is my favorite of hers as well, most consistent album I think. The closer is excellent, possibly my top track at this point.



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