Japanese Breakfast was one of 2016’s best breakout bands, Michelle Zauner’s precise, fiercely synthy indie rock quickly catapulted her from the minor label release of her first full-length, Psychopomp, to a re-release on Dead Oceans and a tour with indie rock’s reigning queen Mitski that helped introduce Zauner to a host of new fans. She’s quickly followed up Psychopomp — which was more of a remastered collection of demos culled from other writing sessions — with another new record, this one titled Soft Sounds From Another Planet.
Plenty of the material on Psychopomp was written while Zauner’s mother was very ill, and in the wake of her death, and Soft Sounds is a further extension of processing her grief at that loss. It’s quite obviously a spacey, sci-fi themed record, and Zauner said she used space as an escape: “I used the theme as a means to disassociate from trauma. Space used as a place of fantasy.”
To build off that, the lead single “Machinist” is a subdued and steely introduction to her next chapter, and the video, which Zauner helped create, is inspired by a number of science fiction classics.