Album Review: Clean by the Japanese House

The Japanese House may mean nothing to you, but if you’re an avid user of SoundCloud you are probably well aware of the artist that has taken the music sharing website by storm. Clean, the second EP from The Japanese House showcases the talents of singer/songwriter Amber Bain, who takes her synth-driven pop music combined with her indie rock influences to deliver a sound that leaves you wanting more after each listen.

Backed by her friends in band The 1975, which clearly influences the production of her own music, Bain once again provides a thrilling EP of anonymity; it’s hard to find another contemporary artist who can rival her sound. However, the question remains, can The Japanese House match the viral success of her first EP release that was released just a few months prior?

At first listen, it’s obvious Bain pursued a cleaner and more refined sound on Clean. The vocal alterations reminiscent of Imogen Heap have become the trademark element for The Japanese House and are definitely honed and refined within this newest EP.

The most notable achievement within Clean is the impeccable song structure of the opening song “Clean.” The song features definitive elements of The Japanese House’s sound; driven by detailed verses and backed by a haunting vocoder and synthesizer.

Abstract choruses such as, “and I knew it wouldn’t last, but in the clean light you cast, I was good, I was good” are backed by clean and bright guitar riffs, the polyrhythmic lyrics which allow the song to meet the listener where they are at, enabling fans to easily resonate with the sentiment behind “Clean.”

The abstract lyrics prevalent throughout the EP, present both hopeful and pessimistic imagery, leaving a haunting yet mesmerizing feeling. Take for instance the last track on the EP “Sugar Pill” where Bain sings, “You could use my rib cage as a pillow, it doesn’t suit me. I feel flimsy when I grin, like a stretched out piece of skin.”

The melody of “Sugar Pill” incites an alluring sense of familiarity, but Bain’s naturally abstract lyricism maintains a distance. Throughout the EP, it feels as if Bain is trying to let the listeners join in on her journey without letting anyone get too close.

With the release of Clean, The Japanese House continues to show promise with her quality of lyrics, musicality and overall production quality. However despite the success of Clean and a strong following on SoundCloud, Bain still has some refining to do within how she wants to present herself musically. All in all, The Japanese House will definitely be one to watch in the coming months and years.

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