Japanese Breakfast released their new album, Jubilee, on June 4. This album dives into the cruelties of life in a playful way. Lead singer, Michelle Zauner, is no stranger to loss. Two months after losing her mother to cancer, she released Psychopomp, an album that catalogs the waves of grief she experienced.
A year later, she released Soft Sounds from Another Planet, an album that ruminates on the broad concepts of life, death and space. It’s a seemingly meditative piece that gives perspective to life on Earth.
Four years later, Jubilee is the result of years of healing.
The first single that was released on the album, “Be Sweet,” is reminiscent of 80’s inspired pop hits of the past. It’s an upbeat ballad cloaking the dark truth behind toxic relationships. The lyrics, “Recognize your mistakes and I’ll let you back in / Realize not too late, love you always / Make it up to me, you know it’s better / Be sweet to me, baby / I wanna believe in you,” project the mind of a hopeless romantic caught in the midst of an unhealthy relationship.
Zauner has a knack for providing social commentary on the class system and the toxic masculinity that exists throughout. In her satire piece, “Savage Good Boy,” she does both, but from the perspective of a business mogul. In the lyrics, “I want to make the money ’til there’s no more to be made / And we will be so wealthy, I’m absolved from questioning /That all my bad behavior was just a necessary strain / They’re the stakes in the race to win,” Zauner is making a critique on the lack of accountability that exists within the American high class.
The song “In Hell” takes a somber turn on the album. With the lyrics, “Hell is finding someone to love / And I can’t have you / Hell is finding someone to love / And I can’t see you again”, the listener gets a raw glimpse of the pain attached to the passing of a loved one. A song honest enough to be a diary entry, “In Hell” is Zauner’s way of coming to terms with her truth: the healing process is not linear, it takes time and patience in a world that has so little of either.
In the past year alone, we’ve all seen loss to some degree or another. Jubilee came at a time when we needed a beacon of hope – a promise that there is light at the end of that tunnel and we can bask in all its glory. Zauner was able to analyze all aspects of loss in our society – the romanticization of failed relationships, the lack of accountability within capitalism, the struggles of living within a misogynistic society and the reality of losing a loved one. She brings to light a society that is sick, but can reach a point of healing given the right amount of reflection.
Essential Tracks: “Be Sweet,” “Savage Good Boy” and “Kokomo, IN”
Prerequisites: Alvvays’ Antisocialites and Mitski’s Be The Cowboy