The Japanese House: Good At Falling

Music Reviews The Japanese House
The Japanese House: Good At Falling

Here’s what Good At Falling has going for it: singer/songwriter Amber Bain creates an immensely lush soundscape, not unlike a dream. It is oddly meditative, a narcotic wall of sound.

Unfortunately, like a dream, there isn’t a lot to remember after the album is done playing. A protégée of The 1975, Bain has all of the electronic-pop influences going for her, but they don’t go anywhere. Instead, Good At Falling is a lot of noise with nothing to show for itself.

The album’s best track, “Maybe You’re The Reason” shows an 80s-style promise until the vocals kick in. Kate Bush’s influence is clear here, an attempt to elevate the typical pop sound to an art form. Unfortunately, it’s a peak she never quite reaches the summit of. The consistent echo overlay is distracting, a way of keeping the listener out. And with good reason. The lyrics are lukewarm, like a notebook from Lana del Rey’s garage sale, and her constant use of the baby voice – on this and other songs – doesn’t help to sell her as the serious songwriter she is trying to hard to be.

Similarly, “You Seem So Happy” is at least upbeat, with a warm, sun-washed guitar. The autotune is still present, but it’s minimal and well-executed, played in just the right spots to work as a deliberate artistic choice, rather than a crutch.

But those are the only two tracks with any promise. The opening track “went to meet her” is a slurry, porno-moan AutoTuned mess, the anthem of a land where consonants have been banned. Someone might want to tell her that titling a track “somethingfartogoodtofeel” is, umm, distracting. It’s the only thing notable about the song, which is the sonic equivalent of the paint job on the wall of a doctor’s office.

“Different people have different ways of living” she sings on “Follow My Girl.” Her music conjures a wide expanse of sunny salt flats, an enormous space to breathe, but nothing can grow on salt flats. That seems to be the consistent theme of the album, no hooks, no roots, nothing to ground it.

I’m not sure where you’re supposed to play this album. It’s not energetic enough for the dance floor, it’s too electric for a yoga retreat. The album lacks the listener urgency that make you want to return to it over and over. There’s simultaneously too much going on and not enough, a lot of static and noise that never quite finds where it is supposed to go.

Good At Falling is the fast fashion of music. It’s here and it looks good on the hanger, but are you ever going to give it a real listen, or will it be forgotten in the back of the closet? I think it’s the latter. Other artists, such as Florence and the Machine are creating better, more interesting music with the same techniques. Seek them out instead of wasting your time on this one.

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