Originally I came across Japanese Breakfast from her other album Psychopomp. I had thought she was of Japanese descent based off of her name until I heard the track “Psychopomp” which was an instrumental track with a recording of her mother speaking in Korean. It surprised me and when I looked it up, I found out that she was actually half-Korean. That didn’t change my mind about her music, which is awesome, but finding musicians who come from Korean heritage is actually kind of difficult. Soft Sounds From Another Planet is a step forward from Psychopomp, showing a brilliance that is expanded from her previous release.
Starting the album with “Diving Woman,” you think you might be getting a mellow indie rock album. That changes as you work through the album. “Road Head” may follow the same low-key feeling as “Diving Woman,” but the grooves and melodies are excellent. Her vocals aren’t exactly perfect pitch, but the emotion that flows through each verse gets stuck in your head. She doesn’t just stick to a single style with “Machinist” taking a more electronic pop tone. I have to say that while Soft Sounds From Another Planet doesn’t have a single cohesive theme, every song fits a singular tone. It’s like Japanese Breakfast composed songs as organically as possible and allowed them to go in whatever direction they wanted. The freedom that the album has is what gives it strength.
Soft Sounds From Another Planet is the perfect title because while the songs are “soft,” they create this world that you are immersed in. It’s like walking across a city with your own unique soundtrack that fits each neighborhood. The mixture of indie rock and electronic experimentation speak together perfectly. You won’t get bored listening to the album. The recording of the album, at times, might feel a little lo-fi but the fact that it’s not over-polished keeps the energy and true feelings of each track. It’s not an album with one or two stronger singles with the rest of the songs filling the gaps, Soft Sounds From Another Planet is built in a way that every song has a place – which is rare nowadays.
As the follow up to the excellent Psychopomp, Soft Sounds From Another Planet might go in a different direction. But that choice showed that Japanese Breakfast wasn’t an one-off artist. This is an amazing album regardless of ethnicity. It’s one of the best of 2017.