It was literal seconds into the new Japanese Breakfast record when I knew it was all over for me. Jubilee, the third record from Michelle Zauner is an exuberant affair, punctuated with a keen perspective about everything that falls under the umbrella of life, love and all types of relationships.
The album is not only gorgeous sounding but full of moments that can make even the casual listener sit up and take notice. Zauner has mentioned that, “After spending the last five years writing about grief, I wanted our follow-up to be about joy,” Jubilee is wonderfully joyous. Filled with soaring melodies and intricately beautiful horn arrangements, the album is startling. Zauner with co-producer Craig Hendrix has wildly succeeded with what they set out to do and it is a wonder to behold.
Musically the record’s instrumentation is dense but rich enough to feel incredibly alive. “Paprika” kicks off with an air organ that seems to fill up every space of the song’s frame until Zauner starts to sing and the whole image opens up. It’s one of the album’s unique traits. Every track seemingly begins at its fullest but with every layer introduced, the bouncing bass line that carries “Be Sweet” or the tiered synths of “Side Tackle”, the canvas expands and makes room for every single piece of instrumentation added. It’s masterful work. Zauner also continues to showcase her excellent writing skills. Juxtaposing the musical breeziness of “Kokomo, IN” with lyrics that cut to the core. Zauner sings, “Just know that I’ll be here longing/I’ll wait, passing time just popping wheelies/And kicking round this flyover state/Watching you show off to the world the parts I fell so hard for” simultaneously capturing nostalgia, longing and regret in one fell swoop. Elsewhere on Jubillee, Zauner embraces a dance groove on the aforementioned “Be Sweet” and “Side Tackle” but also in a more mournful way on the equally infectious “Posing In Bondage”. The song, about loneliness and longing and the inability to connect with another, manages to be toe tapping at the same time that it is heartbreaking. Zauner also takes on other roles in her writing as on “Savage Good Boy” Overtop David Byrne-esque melodies, Zauner embodies the character of a rich man and clearly encapsulates in real time how terrible some people can be as the main character rationalizes their greed.
Jubilee is a masterclass in songwriting and production. Each aspect embraces the other and compliments it perfectly. Triumphantly rejoicing in the biggest and most mundane of emotions, Japanese Breakfast has crafted a record that fulfills and abandons just moments apart from each other. With every listen there is something more to discover. It’s a fitting statement from someone that has spent so much of her career growing into herself and seemingly has been able to do exactly what she set out to. Jubilee is bombastic and subtle, full of towering affections and understated warmth and something you completely cannot miss out on.
Pre-order Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast HERE