“How’s it feel to be at the centre of the magic,” Japanese Breakfast (real name Michelle Zauner) sings on the opening track of her new album, Jubilee. The statement, set against a euphoric blast of horns, establishes the tone for the indie singer’s third record, which is her biggest and brightest yet.
Zauner’s previous albums – 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet – were reflections on grief and mourning following the death of her mother. Her newly released debut memoir, Crying in H Mart (based on her viral New Yorker essay from 2014) builds on similar feelings of melancholy.
In contrast, Jubilee is a celebration of joy. The 10-track album is breezy and buoyant, bringing together elements of shimmering alt-pop and homespun lo-fi with 80s Kate Bush escapism to dazzling effect. Written from a fictional standpoint, Zauner ruminates on fuzzy feelings of love and longing amid shoegazey soundscapes and crescendoing string and horn arrangements, which only seek to bolster the fantastical atmosphere.
Elsewhere, Brockhampton release their boisterous sixth album, Dark0 drops an atmospheric debut, and Loraine James’ record is a genre-hopping masterpiece.