The Japanese House Comes to Terms with Eternity on New Album In The End It Always Does

I remember the exact moment and place I listened to The Japanese House for the first time. I’d gone on a walk to debate if I should stop seeing the guy that was making me miserable or not, and had Good at Falling as the soundtrack for the mental discussion with myself. I shared the song “Maybe You’re the Reason” on my Instagram story without really looking at the lyrics, and one of my friends replied something along the lines of “is this a subtweet for him?” It really wasn’t, and that song is more about existential dread than anything, but damn was it accidentally accurate. I wonder if he was narcissistic enough to look up the words and feel called out.

Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with Amber Bain’s music and lyrics, as they unapologetically narrate what being a teenager in your ’20s is all about. It only made sense for me to hyperfixate on the whole The Japanese House concept (Bain’s older stuff was produced by The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel), so it felt like I’d finally found a new version of my favorite band but this time with a perspective rooted on the experiences of growing up as a girl.

This time around, Matty and George were still part of the process, alongside Justin Vernon and MUNA‘s Katie Gavin, and the result is one of my favorite albums of the year. With the intention of sounding a lot more poppier than previous releases, Bain’s In The End It Always Ends it’s a perfect depiction of relationships and life itself.

To be fair, learning about Amber’s experiences through this album made me feel like an inexperienced wuss–I don’t think I’ve ever even been in love, while she is mostly singing about being deeply in love and in a throuple – but it also confirmed to me that the stages I’ve gone through, even while being in “situationships” or when thinking about friendships, are literally how things are supposed to go. Life works in cycles (peep the album cover) and we go through life choosing new beginnings, knowing that they will sooner or later come to an end.

In The End It Always Does flawlessly begins with a chaotic rendition of the 101 Dalmatians theme song, one of Bain’s ex’s favorite movie. I like to think that it represents the intensity of the first stages of love; you feel everything so much and at the same time, and all the little details about the other person become incredibly meaningful and important to you. “Spot Dog” only has four lines but is four and a half minutes long and feels like a rollercoaster.

Contrarily, it ends with “One for sorrow, two for Joni Jones,” a heartbreaking but also soothing ballad about acceptance and reconciliation with yourself. It’s beautiful and painful (the first time Amber recorded it she was sobbing and to this day can’t listen to it too often) but so perfect and necessary! Two particular lines floored me: “​​no one’s ever gonna love me like this dog lying in my lap,” which is just her stating a fact, and “sometimеs I think without you life would lose its bones, [but] really day to day I’d still just be walking in the park with my little Joni Jones,” which perfectly summarizes the peace you find once the heartbreak is over. The instrumental of the song loops back to the first note on the album, allowing it to smoothly start again, just like it happens in real life.

Naturally, The 1975 influence and production is palpable in some of my favorite songs from the LP. “Touching Yourself,” a track about the contraposition of desire (literally singing about unexpectedly getting nudes) and emotional exhaustion, delivers the excruciatingly relatable lyric “know I shouldn’t need it but I want affection, know I shouldn’t want it but I need attention.” “Sad to Breathe” on the other hand is an incredibly sad AND fun bop about the initial feelings around a breakup, and “Friends” is a playful reflection on threesomes. “Sunshine Baby,” one of the album’s singles that hints at healthily embracing things being over, even has Matty’s vocals echoing Bain’s, and it’s slowly become one of my favorite songs.

Every single phase of love is present in Bain’s sophomore album, from meeting people to moving on from them. The 90s-inspired track “Over There” alludes to growing apart from those you’re in love with, which is a feeling later confirmed by “Morning Pages,” where Katie Gavin sings about things that “used to be so hot, now [are] just sweet.” There was never a lack of love between these people, as Amber has stated: “Love was never the issue. I never wasn’t in love. But I realized I wasn’t in love with myself.” The singer herself and the human connections around her just progressed like they were supposed to.

“Indexical reminder of a morning well spent” touches on the comfort of dating, like when you already feel at home at their place, but also alludes to knowing you shouldn’t go back to it. Later on, “Baby Goes Again” straight up talks about relapsing, ultimately going back to that person because you can’t help it. And then “You always get what you want” voices the sometimes inevitable bitter feeling you get once you realize that other people are always going to be fencing for themselves while in a relationship.

The only song that maybe steps away from the whole relationship topic is “Boyhood,” the first single from this era. It’s mostly about trauma and questioning yourself, especially as Bain becomes comfortable with talking about feeling gender non-conforming and not fully feeling like a woman )although keeping the female pronouns.) Growing up as a girl brings along so much pressure that we never asked for, we’re raised to be how other people say we should be, and when we take an unexpected turn we’re not even sure where to go next. Bain writes about a boyhood she never had the chance to live, and how it might’ve changed the person she is today.

If you’re like Amber and if you’re like me, you feel a lot and you’re very aware of it, and you probably also think way too much about what it all means. In The End It Always Does acknowledges this overwhelming perception of where things are going and puts it into dreamy songs that make you want to scream because of how specific they are. It reminds us that things always happen the way they’re supposed to; you fall in love, you fall out of it, you experiment, you question yourself, you take silly little walks to think and bump into new music, you fall in love again. And it’s only fair and logical for us to feel each and every one of these things over and over again, because that’s what life is like and it’s just how it works.

In The End It Always Does is out now.

1 comment on “The Japanese House Comes to Terms with Eternity on New Album In The End It Always Does

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