EP REVIEW: The Japanese House – Chewing Cotton Wool

Release Date: August 13th 2020
Label: Dirty Hit
Website: www.thejapanesehouse.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/japanesehouse
Twitter: www.twitter.com/japanesehouse


With her first release since last year’s debut LP, ‘Good At Falling’, The Japanese House (aka Amber Bain) is drawing us back into her melancholy chords. The London singer/songwriter is back and better than ever before with her latest break-up ready EP, ‘Chewing Cotton Wool’.

The effort starts off soft and familiar with ‘Sharing Beds’, with just Bain and her piano. The soothing sounds slowly and skilfully transform into robotic beeps, not too dissimilar from her fellow Dirty Hit label mates, The 1975. Raising the anxious tension, Bain softly sings “I’m a fucking mess”, as her voice suddenly turns electronic and her hysteria becomes part of the buzz.

Lulling you into a sense of uncomfortable security, ‘Something Has To Change’ repeats isolated chords throughout the whole track, reflecting on modernity. Originally released in 2019, this seemingly never-ending bop confronts you with the thoughts that are constantly in the back of your mind, that “you’re going around in circles, your life feels just the same”, which feels even more real coming out of lockdown. Arguably, this upbeat pop song is so perfect that, unlike the title, it makes you wish nothing would change.

Following in the same alt pop fashion, The Japanese House teams up with Justin Vernon, otherwise known as Bon Iver, to create a chill, empowering song about mental health. Not too dissimilar from songs heard on Bon Iver‘s 2016 album, ’22, A Million’, both Vernon‘s and Bain‘s sounds perfectly meld into an electronic orchestra of utter brilliance. With clashing lyrics and sounds, this song wraps depression in cotton wool before you’re forced to bite down and chew it.

‘Chewing Cotton Wool’ suddenly grounds you, drawing you away from the covert sadness into the explicit and gritty realism of a break up. This muted sound from Bain feels cinematic, as she cries that her ex is now “someone else’s drink”. This “memory” of a past lover starts as a kind-hearted, heart breaking haunting figure that eventually becomes the “monster in the fridge” that’s “chewing cotton wool”. As soon as the gravity of the situation hits you, the song, along with the EP, ends.

This journey into different stages of a break-up feels perfect. Diverting from her usual sound, Bain is finding her unique, pop sound in an oversaturated market, making it a must listen for any The 1975, Bon Iver, or Pale Waves fan.