The Japanese House Puts a “:)” on Her Face

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Something’s happening.

The Japanese House feels happier.

That’s the chorus of her new single “:)”. And it’s also the first thought I had when I finished listening to it.

Historically, The Japanese House (the sparkly, introspective project of singer-songwriter Amber Bain) has been an exercise in bright melancholy: how happy can you sound while still being sad? Her most recent project, In the End It Always Does, was my favorite record of last year (it’s spinning on my record player as I write this). It was a twelve-song telling of a break-up story that had Bain questioning if anything would ever go right for her again.

The life of an artist like Bain – wildly creative, yet somewhat private and shy – must be strange. Every album release cycle, you let millions of people in on your life with songs that are deeply personal. But that only happens for a couple of months every few years, so the majority of your life doesn’t make it into the music. The result is that fans don’t move forward until your music does; if you were sad in 2023 and haven’t released anything new since, then it’s all they can do to assume you’re still sad.

And then you announce that you’re engaged, and you’re releasing a song called “:)”, all in a week.

The song opens with the layers of acoustic and clean electric that saturated In the End It Always Does. But even in the intro, you can tell something’s different. The melancholy is gone. The song still sounds like The Japanese House in all the best ways (anything George Daniel touches turns to gold), but it’s as if a cloud has been lifted.

Talking to someone, she lives in the States
She could be anyone, and we’ve been staying up ’til late

The first words give it away: a new relationship. It’s online and it’s long distance – at first, they barely know each other enough to confidently say it’s not a catfish – but it feels real. So Bain takes a risk, and buys the plane ticket.

Well, in three weeks, I’ll be getting off a plane
Seen it written down, but how do I pronounce her name?
My friends all say it’s crazy, you know what, maybe it is
Who cares

The verse bursts into a chorus as simple as it is profound. Despite all the nervousness, all the embarrassment, all the “what if it goes wrong again?”, she jumps into the feeling heart-first.

Something’s happening
I feel happier
I could be losing my mind
But something’s happening

Introspection is Bain’s calling card as a songwriter. She’s shown in her work that she’s aware of her emotions to an almost crippling degree at times, as if being so aware of her feelings often leaves little room for actually feeling them fully. But things are different with this new relationship. For the first time, her introspection is just a mere check-up, not a diagnosis. Things are just going well.

Well enough that she can just put her fears and worries away for a while, pick up a guitar, and just start jamming.

And after a listen, it’s hard not to join in.

The post The Japanese House Puts a “:)” on Her Face appeared first on Two Story Melody.

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