Michelle Zauner started Japanese Breakfast as a creative outlet away from Little Big League, an Indie Rock band that, in hindsight, catered more to Zauner’s punkier bandmates than it did her own vision. It then came as no surprise that the solo project took on a life of its own, resulting in 2016’s Psychopomp, an intimate Dream Pop record heavily influenced by the death of Zauner’s mother.
The follow-up, last year’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet, is even dreamier and more cohesive — a dozen songs that recall everything from Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star to myriad Shoegaze outfits.
“I was nervous about following up Psychopomp because it was such an accident,” Zauner said in a recent interview with Fader. “I had built something that I really didn’t want to lose and I was afraid of falling in the sophomore slump. I just kind of felt like all the odds were stacked against me. I think Pyschopomp is in your face and upbeat, but the production is way more lo-fi and all over the place. It›s a bedroom record. Soft Sounds is a little more accessible because its production is way more hi-fi and listenable.”
Album opener “Diving Woman” is nearly seven minutes of intoxicating New Wave beats, guitar curly-cues and Zauner’s ethereal vocals, which could serve as the soundtrack to the grooviest prom ever set in outer space. Best of all is “Boyish,” a romantic Doo-Wop-inspired ditty featuring this blunt admission: “I can’t get you off my mind/I can’t get you off in general.”