Music Reviews

EP Review: The Japanese House – Swim Against the Tide

Following on from the success of ‘Pools to Bathe In’ and ‘Clean’, The Japanese House complement their beautiful melancholic sound with an equally eerie yet infectious EP. Indeed, Swim Against the Tide embraces the use of harmonies, by adding layer upon layer of vocals to create a sound that is completely unique and distinguishable.

Once again, experimentation with sound takes precedence. This has almost become a trademark style for Amber Bain (the brains behind the Japanese House moniker). By saturating Swim Against the Tide with the right amount of synthesisers, guitars and vocoders, it is assured to gain yet more critical appreciation and praise.

“The Japanese House offer up a plate of melancholy funk”

Swim Against the Tide opens with the title track. From the outset, this EP exudes the ethereal feeling evoked by previous releases. Maybe owing to the success of singles ‘Still’ and ‘Cool Blue’, Swim Against the Tide commences with a sense of confident self-assurance. Consisting of steel pans and blissful verses, the track epitomises the newfound musical freedom that has accompanied Bain’s rise into the limelight.

Moreover, it is evident that Bain is experimenting with her sound and branching out to different tones. The first single from the EP, ‘Face Like Thunder’, opts for a more pop fused vibe than fans will have previously been used to. Within the music industry, ‘pop’ is sometimes seen as a dirty word. However, this track avoids any sense of cliché or simplification – rather the opposite. The fusion of genres inevitably makes the track more accessible to a wider audience thanks to the upbeat tone. It’s rhythmically euphonious and subtly euphoric.

The closing track is ‘Leon’, which sends the EP off well with a wave of psychedelia and a danceable groove. Being the most diverse of the track list, ‘Leon’ captures ‘Swim Against the Tide’ as a whole. While the chorus is a dance-inducing climax, the verses remain more serene. Ultimately, it combines Bain’s earlier musical identity with her latest, more experimental side.

The thread of pop is weaved throughout the EP, tying together the individual tracks smoothly. From the opening ‘Swim Against the Tide’ to the closing ‘Leon’, The Japanese House offer up a plate of melancholy funk. Somehow the EP is able to feel optimistically compelling whilst still remaining wistfully celestial. It is this juxtaposition of calming tones with polyrhythmic beats that draws attention to the EP. The Japanese House are more appealing than ever before.

Swim Against The Tide is due for release on 11th November

Lucy Robinson

Image courtesy of The Japanese House via Facebook

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