Labeling a record “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” is bound to conjure up expectations, of trance atmospherics, like a low-key Jamiroquai or something. Yet while Michelle Zauner, a.k.a. Japanese Breakfast, does deliver some softness and some off-planet-ness, her sophomore solo album is more just relaxed beauty.
Almost throughout Soft Sounds, Zauner never gets ahead of herself, relaxing even when resigned and sad, like the penultimate “This House” (the final track is the sound of closing church bells, “Here Come the Tubular Bells”) or swaying “Body Is a Blade”. There are grand moments, like horns-led beauty that grows into a torch song on “Till Death”, and cool distance to opener “Diving Woman” (actually reminiscent of Metric). And Zauner really does get overdone with “Machinist”, synths & vocoders and even a closing sax solo.
But that is an exception to the beautiful rule on Soft Sounds From Another Planet.