Posts Tagged ‘Psychopomp’

A solo moniker for Philadelphia musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast began as a month-long, song-a-day writing challenge during a break from her indie rock band Little Big League. The result was 2013’s June, an intimate set of melodic, electric guitar-accompanied lo-fi tunes issued on cassette by Ranch Records. She continued to write solo and with her band, with Japanese Breakfast’s self-released Where Is My Great Big Feeling? and the Seagreen Records cassette American Sound both following in the summer of 2014 before Little Big League’s Tropical Jinx arrived that October. With a varied palette including markedly bigger, synth-boosted sounds that bridged lo-fi and indie pop, Japanese Breakfast’s Yellow K Records debut, Psychopomp, was released in the spring of 2016.

The album dealt with the emotional fallout of her mother’s death, and was, in Zauner’s mind, the one and only Japanese Breakfast record. She soon changed her mind, signed with Dead Oceans (which re-released Psychopomp to a wider audience), and began work on another album with the help of producer Craig Hendrix, who had also helmed Little Big League’s debut album. The pair played the bulk of the instruments on the album and went for a much bigger sound, taking the project out of the bedroom and into a much bigger space. An expansive mix from indie pop alchemist Jorge Elbrecht made it sound even larger as Zauner delved into themes like grief, dead pop stars, outer space, and moving on. Soft Sounds from Another Planet was released by Dead Oceans in July of 2017


Photo by Phobymo.

Japanese Breakfast is Michelle Zauner’s first solo project since fronting the Philadelphian bands Little Big League and Post Post . The songs on Psychopomp were written over the past six years, some after the passing of her mom.

Her song, “Jane Cum,” is a dark meditation on love lost. The video, directed by Adam Kolodny, captures that longing—bright headlights cut through black woods, a chip of quartz sparkles in the sun, and a coven of witches carry out a clandestine ritual. Premiering today, “Jane Cum” offers a peek at the delicate balance of Japanese Breakfast’s last album: sometimes light as a feather, other times dark as night.

Sometimes the only way to deal with devastating tragedy is to turn it into something beautiful, and Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner does exactly that on the gorgeously dream-hazed Psychopomp. With soft-focus drum loops and gauzy synths, the former indie rocker pays tribute to a mom who was claimed by cancer, while, in the larger picture, reminding us that the pain one day fades but the good memories don’t.

Grief hangs over Psychopomp like a dark cloud, but as the year goes on, what stands out on Michelle Zauner’s debut full-length as Japanese Breakfast are the intense moments of euphoric happiness that play out on the sidelines: the joyous high of “Everybody Wants To Love You,” “Heft”‘s glorious fuck-you to the encroaching darkness, the resolute power in the album’s closing lines, “But in the night, I am someone else.” More than a depiction of loss, Psychopomp stands as a testament to finding your strongest self in situations of monumental sadness, taking comfort in the unpredictable and unknown

Soaring vocals and dreamy instrumentals, this album has so much heart. This band knows how to translate sugary pop, rock, and folksy music into a glowing, lofi dreamscape. There is a fun blend of hooky-ness and surreal, often amusing lyricism that keeps the whole album vibrant and exciting.


Released April 1st, 2016

“at once cosmically huge and acutely personal, Zauner captures grief for the perversely intimate yet overwhelming pain it is. Long may she keep at this music thing.” -Pitchfork ,
“a stunning debut” -Rolling Stone
“overwhelmingly colorful and joyous; while her words betray grief and frustration, she turns the pain into power.” -NPR
Psychopomp is exemplary, finding joy in sadness and despair in the brightest of lights…It’s an immaculately crafted debut, and you should listen” -Stereogum


Michelle Zauner’s music as Japanese Breakfast plunges headfirst into some of the darkest experiences in human life and finds glimmers of bright light around the fringe. trying to  describe its genre, but trying to pin down Zauner’s style can be as fruitless as attempting to make sense of the sadness and loss that inspired her new album “Psychopomp” . As with those sensations, it might be more productive to just let this music wash over you than to understand its inner workings. It’s as fluid, expansive, and gorgeous piece of work as its subject matter demands.