By Tory Rosso
Japanese Breakfast is the artistic alias of Michelle Zauner, serving up delicious, artisanal compositions and arrangements that are as relaxing on the surface as they are emotional in content, leaving listeners satiated, but not overfilled.
Zauner got her start in music as a 15-year-old, touring with bands like Little Big League and Post Post before moving to Oregon to care for her sick mother. When her mother passed away, Zauner was faced with an existential shift in perspective as well as a life-changing shift in career.
It was in the wake of grief that she wrote and recorded Psychopomp, her first project as Japanese Breakfast. It was more an act of self-care than anything, and no one was more surprised than Zauner when there was an audience for this personal project. Her follow-up release, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, came out just over a year later; there’s no time to slow down when you’re aware of your own mortality.
Zauner delivers assertive, yet often plaintive vocal performances, accompanied by tranquil guitar chords and a no-nonsense rhythm section. Where instrumentation is subtle, her lyricism is heavy-handed, grappling with introspective topics like loss, mourning and the inevitable passage of time.
Despite its morose subject matter, Japanese Breakfast will have you dancing. This is a dish that is best served in the intimate confines of oversized headphones on a day-dreamy afternoon, or on the drive home from Sunday brunch with your best mates.