It’s been 4 years since the debut of The Japanese House, the singer songwriter Amber Bain’s indiepop/folktronica musical project. After releasing the EPs Pools to Bathe In, Swim Against the Tide, Clean, and Saw You in a Dream through the Dirty Hit label, Bain has released her first LP, Good at Falling.
Until now, fans of The Japanese House have just been given quick glimpses into Bain’s world, with EPs running under the 20 minute mark. But with Good at Falling, we are given an extended pause into a raw vulnerability present inside Bain’s imagination and what would inevitably become her reality as the album is one full exploration of the dissolution experienced due to a breakup. (Bain broke things off with musician girlfriend Marika Hackman while working on the record).
Certain tracks undoubtedly are stronger than others. “We Talk All The Time”, “Lilo”, and “Saw You in a Dream” carry the album in a way that “Worms” and “Wild” do not. “You Seemed So Happy” is so saccharine it nearly gives me a toothache. Bain’s autotuned and layered vocals evoke a nostalgia for Imogen Heap ala Frou Frou via Garden State’s soundtrack, especially in “Follow My Girl” and though Bain is not after the manic pixie dream girl image of Natalie Portman in that film, her work is perhaps just as polarizing in its transparency and commitment to honesty. Sure, her lyrics don’t contain the depth of other artist’s debut albums, but her message is universal: Can we even trust another person--let alone our own perceptions when it comes to relationships?