A couple years ago, after her old band Little Big League broke up, Michelle Zauner dove headfirst into her solo project Japanese Breakfast and released a stunning debut album in the form of Psychopomp. It was one of the best albums of 2016 and led to her signing to Dead Oceans, who are putting out Japanese Breakfast’s forthcoming sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet. That release is being announced today alongside a video for lead single “Machinist.”
If you’ve seen the band live over the past year, there’s a good chance you may recognize the song — they often close out their sets with it — and it’s a stunner. “The song is a sci-fi narrative about a woman who falls in love with a robot,” Zauner says. It starts with a breathy spoken word intro, a forlorn monologue about mixed signals — “All the times I felt so plugged in, you were tuning out” — and morphs into a swirling, gauzy pop song with horns and “Running Up That Hill”-like ascensions. Zauner’s voice is pitch-shifted and alien, a fusion of her character’s digital desire. “I just wanted it all,” she insists, but there’s a wall. She’s trying to communicate with something that’s not completely there.
“In the video she hallucinates on rocket fuel and tears apart her spaceship in an attempt to build a body for her robot lover,” she explains. And, indeed, the video features Zauner falling under the spell of a computer and frantically plotting to construct her fantasy. It’s her fourth collaboration with House Of Nod director Adam Kolodny, who was also behind the striking visuals for “In Heaven,” “Jane Cum,” and “Everybody Wants To Love You,” and for this one they were inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, 2046, and The Fifth Element. Watch and listen and get all the Soft Sounds From Another Planet details below.
01 “Diving Woman”
02 “Road Head”
04 “Planetary Ambience”
05 “Soft Sounds From Another Planet”
07 “12 Steps”
08 “Jimmy Fallon Big”
09 “Body Is A Blade”
10 “Till Death”
11 “This House”
12 “Here Come The Tubular Bells”