JULIEN BAKER – ” Tokyo “

Posted: February 25, 2020 in MUSIC
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Julien Baker was barely 20 when she released her debut album Sprained Ankle, but she voiced her creative frustrations as if she’d already been at this for decades: “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death,” she lamented on the title track. Songs about death may be almost as old as death itself, but each time Baker meditates on giving up the ghost—in her solo work, with her supergroup boygenius, or in a tribute to Frightened Rabbit’s late frontman—her perspective feels chillingly new.

Such is the case with “Tokyo,” a new-to-streaming single Baker released earlier this month as part of a Sub Pop vinyl series. It opens with a hypnotic ascendant arpeggio that initially feels alien to Baker’s usual stripped-down arrangements. But seconds in, her chugging guitar takes over, propelling one of her most affecting songs to date. “Don’t wanna stay here/But I’ll crash anyway,” she sighs over scattered piano notes, likening her own emotional precariousness to a rocky plane landing: “Never learned how to come down without burning up on the runway.” She depicts her inner turmoil as a “seven-car pileup,” calling to mind her deliberations on seat belts from Turn Out the Lights highlight “Hurt Less.” This time, instead of recognizing the value of her own safety, Baker’s coming to terms with the inevitable. “You want love/This is as close as you’re gonna get,” she bellows, her vocals as agonizing as ever. The instrumentation swells with her pain, emulating the startling intensity of a crash landing—and then, just like that, silence.

Because it’s Julien Baker, that’s why. Whenever Julien Baker makes new music, I will buy and enjoy that music. Case in point, these songs.

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Released October 11th, 2019

2019 Sub Pop Records

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