The Japanese House Album Reviews

Amber Bain’s big break came in 2012 when she was introduced to The 1975’s Matt Healy. Still a teenager, she was signed to the band’s label and attracted attention with her mysterious first releases. Her voice is androgynous and the name The Japanese House gave few clues to her identity. Healy described her as “some weird post-apocalyptic Alison Moyet”, while Bain describes herself as “a modern day, more depressing ABBA“.

Bain’s only released two albums to date – she’s still honing her craft, but her career’s off to a promising start.

The Japanese House Album Reviews

Pools to Bathe In | Clean | Swim Against the Tide | Saw You in a Dream | Good at Falling | In the End It Always Does

Pools to Bathe In | Clean | Swim Against the Tide | Saw You in a Dream

Just like The 1975, Bain started her career with a series of four EPs. I’ve never heard them, but I guess should come back and cover them sometime.


2019, 7.5/10
Bain produces her debut album, alongside BJ Burton and The 1975’s drummer George Daniel. With Daniel involved in production, comparisons to The 1975 are inevitable; Bain inhabits the same sophisticated electro-pop territory that The 1975 often mine, but while Healy is all rock-star charisma, Bain’s songs are often low-key and resigned.

The record starts strongly with ‘Went To Meet Her’, an intro track that opens out into ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’. The latter is a great pop song, underpinned by a delightful guitar hook. The production is gorgeous, with Bain’s multi-tracked vocals sounding gorgeous over the classy synth-pop backing. The rest of Good At Falling is often more restrained. ‘You Seemed So Happy’ recalls Stevie Nicks’ vocal in Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ when Bain glides up to the high notes. ‘We Talk All The Time’ is laconic about a failing relationship – “We don’t touch anymore/But we talk all the time so it’s fine/Can somebody tell me what I want?/’Cause I keep changing my mind.”

George Daniel is a talented producer, and it’s fun hearing his ideas applied to a vocalist whose introspection is the polar opposite of Matt Healy’s brash rock star persona.


2023, 8.5/10
Bain’s debut album, Good at Falling, was strong, but her second album shows growth, a collection of well-written tunes. She discusses her sexuality – lead single ‘Boyhood’ is described as being about “growing up queer”, and integrates more acoustic instruments into her songs. If there’s a weakness, it’s the preponderance of mellow tunes – ‘Sunshine Baby’ seems like an obvious single, with an upbeat pop tune and backing vocals from Matt Healy.

There are other upbeat tracks, like ‘Friends’ and ‘Boyhood’, but it’s the stripped-back and contemplative tunes that set the tone; the waltz time of ‘Spot Dog’ and the sparse piano of ‘One For Sorrow, Two For Joni Jones’ are excellent bookends.

Amber Bain’s deepened her artistry with her second record, writing well-crafted and emotionally nuanced songs.

Best Japanese House Songs

Sunshine Baby
Maybe You’re The Reason
We Talk All The Time
Spot Dog

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