The Japanese House – ‘Clean’
With each new track The Japanese House (a.k.a 20 year old Amber Bain) sends out into the ether, comes a sense of sheer excitement mixed with a feeling of trepidation over how intense an emotional response it is going to inspire: it’s that sort of – ‘oh my goodness I didn’t know this was something I could feel until I just felt it’ – type reaction that seems to hit with every song Bain puts out.
Her latest release, ‘Clean’ (the title track from her forthcoming EP, to be released November 6th), premiered by Zane Lowe this week, is no different. If anything, it is her most accomplished work yet. A highly emotive, forward-thinking pop tour de force, ‘Clean’ is a tale of self-acceptance and forgiveness: perhaps it’s the relief in receiving forgiveness from another, or the realisation that whatever happened, eventually you have to forgive yourself. Perhaps it’s both. Either way, these are things that people spend a lifetime trying to articulate and realise; yet it’s something Bain achieves perfectly in 4 minutes and 59 seconds. At least, that is the tale it seems to tell. Such is the beauty of Bain’s lyrical and musical interaction, that she simultaneously evokes a sense of ‘you and her-ness’ – where you’re sure you know exactly what she means, have felt all the things she has – whilst remaining contextually ambiguous, allowing each listener to connect with it on any level they choose. It is the curse of the human condition to try and rationalise everything we experience in a way that is relevant to us and our world picture; Bain allows for this whilst gently consoling the listener that everyone else is feeling ‘it’ too.
‘Clean’ strips you down to your bare bones, from the layers of vocal production which all build and swell around teasing lines of Bain’s unaffected voice, as she sings a denouement heavy with apologetic weight (‘all the things you thought I did, this soulless kid was under all my skin// all the things I tried to say remained within’), to the overall guilelessness of the production in general, perhaps even more so than on her previous EP ‘Pools To Bathe In’.