Soft Sounds from Another Planet is the mesmerizing sophomore album from Michelle Zauner, popularly known as Japanese Breakfast. Soft Sounds from Another Planet's sprawling and expansive tracks feel like a natural maturation from Japanese Breakfast's debut album Psychopomp, which primarily consisted of delightful pop songs. In giving herself more space for exploration and experimentation, Japanese Breakfast has crafted an album that allows it to contain the ambiance of cult shoegaze greats before her, waltzes designed for indie darlings, and even instances of shimmering electropop.
The opening track, "Diving Woman," is a sprawling six-minute-plus space rock track reminiscent of fuzzy '90s sweethearts like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. It's the sort of music that's not really made or popularized anymore, so it is beyond surprising to find it on a Japanese Breakfast album, let alone as the opening track. However surprising it may be, its effect is profound, as it immediately dissuades any preconceived notions as to what may lay ahead. A viewpoint which is surely to be heeded, as the following track "Road Head" gravitates around a series of funky bass lines, only to be followed up by the even more experimental "Machinist" that opens amongst spoken word before delving into a futuristic electropop dream.
Japanese Breakfast's Soft Sounds from Another Planet is truly phenomenal, not only in the wide breadth it manages to achieve sonically, while still maintaining a sense of cohesion, but also in how it thematically manages the same feat. A great deal of the album addresses the more sorrowful aspects of life, such as death, jealously, and genetic disease, but places them within the context of matrimony, wherein someone loves you and you love someone throughout all these instances - providing a light at the end of a tunnel. The final track, "Here Come the Tubular Bells," feels all the more like the perfect ending to the bittersweet Soft Sounds from Another Planet, as wedding bells ring out to signal the end but also the beginning of something new.
Listen to Japanese Breakfast's Soft Sounds from Another Planet in its entirety below: