Picture a typical teen movie where the main character joyfully dances alone in their room, and you can understand the emotions one gets when listening to Japanese Breakfast’s latest album “Jubilee.” The album is a shift away from the sorrowful songs Michelle Zauner, the singer-songwriter behind the project, is known for. Nevertheless, the newest release keeps the uniquely beautiful and funky sound that is present in all of her music.
When audiences were first introduced to Zauner, her albums were understandably riled with grief since they were her way to cope with her mother’s cancer and eventual death. This album is Zauner’s attempt to move past that dark period of her life. Listeners of her music may have thought of her simply as a sad girl, but Zauner writes music that reflects her life and her emotions. By definition, jubilee is celebratory, anticipatory and hopeful, which Zauner expresses in her music. That sentiment is felt in the song “Posing for Cars,” as Zauner’s voice shifts to an instrumental tune that somehow gives the feeling of closure, as if the song — which finishes the album — has cemented her transition to a new period.
Japanese Breakfast’s goal was to convey happiness through joyous tunes, and this album manages to achieve that and more. For instance, as we finish this quarter, all of us feel worn out, unmotivated and uninspired, but listening to this album gives us the chance to unwind and take a breath. In other words, listening to “Jubilee” is the perfect way to usher in the summertime with its bright and upbeat theme throughout.
Songs that stand out with this type of upbeat tune are “Paprika,” “Be Sweet” and “Savage Good Boy.” Each of those songs use their instrumental sound to lift listeners’ spirits. “Paprika” sounds like it could be featured in a musical. In fact, the song strongly reminds listeners of the movie “La La Land.” It has a fast peppy tempo which is very similar to “Another Day of Sun.” “Be Sweet,” on the other hand, strongly sounds like a song from the late ‘80s due to its heavy use of synthesizers, a popular practice back then. Additionally, “Savage Good Boy” is a wildcard, with its unique and lively sound. In all, every song in “Jubilee” is very much Zauner’s own. It may remind one of certain emotions or memories, a true reflection of how she projects happiness.
Although this album features several upbeat and lively songs, it still takes the time to slow down and relax. Listening to songs such as “Slide Tackle” and “Tactics” makes listeners slow down to appreciate the moment. The tune for songs like that in the album is very soft. The melody is usually an organized jazz or orchestra paired with Zauner’s mellow voice that turns songs into a subtle ballad. This causes lyrics like “I’m tackling this void” to not be anguished, instead it seems like everything is going to be sorted out.
Listening to “Jubilee” is the best way to enter summer. It can be the soundtrack for students that are celebrating commencement or eagerly awaiting the return of in-person classes. The album gives listeners feelings of joy and tranquility, perfectly exemplifying the bittersweet feelings of a quarter that is coming to an end. Japanese Breakfast created a masterpiece in this new release.
Verdict: “Jubilee” is an album that should be heard. It is eclectic, has unique songs and manages to make listeners unwind and feel happy, which is what leading woman Michelle Zauner wanted to achieve.