All good things come to an end, but I thought that this might last.
Amber Bain, AKA The Japanese House, released her debut EP, Pools To Bathe In back in mid 2015, consisting of 4 tracks. When I first listened to it I didn’t know if she was either exploring a totally new genre that she had invented, or if it was completely ahead of it’s time. The EP, as well as her future releases have so far all been produced by label mates The 1975’s Matthew Healy and George Daniel, making it clearer to see that Bain not only takes up inspiration from them but also vice versa. I found the EP to be totally mesmerising, refreshing and dreamy, featuring softly picked guitars, soft synths, low frequency basslines, and strong, eclectic, yet clean rhythms, not to mention how she completely thickens out all her songs with a vocoder, creating multiple vocal layers. Later in the year she released her Clean EP, featuring the song Cool Blue, probably being her most famous song to date.
Also, just so you know, she plays a right handed guitar, left handed, which I’ve never seen anywhere else before. It’s pretty cool.
Her most recent release, Saw You in a Dream is a blend of all her previous releases, with the main single being my fifth most listened to track so far this year (bound to change as soon as I listen to it more and more). It’s the strongest song on the release by far, also being one of her catchiest songs. However the lyrics are some of the brutally saddest Bain has written so far:
“It’s about someone I was really close with when I was younger. But a couple of years ago they died. A bit after that I saw them in this dream and it was quite a weird situation, because I’d never experienced something like that before. Even if you didn’t know the context for it, it would still make sense because it’s still a love song – a heart-break song.”
However, you have to give it the benefit of the doubt. The song doesn’t make you feel sad, or heartbroken, or distressed. It’s such an upbeat song with a great chorus. Despite the instrumental, the lyrics don’t feel ironic or out of place. The drumbeat being somewhat reminiscent of the song Yes I’m Changing by Tame Impala. With the combination of the dreamy guitars drenched in chorus effects, jittery synths, funky rhythms and the sombre vocals, it all feels quite literally like a dream. This song definitely makes it onto my Certified Bangers list.
The next song on the tracklist is Somebody you found, a more down to earth transition, lifting the mood, and the song being more like her previous material. The song has a really replayable quality to it, and also throws the EP back into the 80s temporarily with some glistening chimes and lightly picked guitars and a really reverby mix. Then next up is the song 3/3, sitting as one of the strongest on the EP, showcasing Amber Bain’s diversity for being able to creative complicated melodies and solid beats.
The closing track on the EP, Count to Nine is by far the most emotional. Amber takes a seriously personal moment in her previous love life and owns it, and builds an extremely detailed song. The lyrics cleverly tie in well with the actual length of the song, being 9 minutes long. At the time of release, it’s her longest song so far. If you are a die-hard fan of her previous works, you will seriously appreciate what Amber has to offer in this song, as it’s a mix of several instrumental swells, all fused together with electronic synthesis, and, at times, very progressive rhythms and timbres.
With The Japanese House having released 4 studio EPs, Saw You in a Dream is her last before releasing a full length debut studio album. It will be out next year at some point between spring and summer, which, in regards to her releases, seems to have been timed perfectly, with each EP gaining Amber Bain slightly more, and more fans. We can only hope it will be her best release to date, and a further exploration of electronic RNB and glistening guitar work. However, I know that Saw You in a Dream will be seen between the fans as a staple in The Japanese House’s career and timeline.