The Japanese House Is No Worries If Not on “:)”

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jun 18, 2024

While I ultimately ended up putting forth Afternoon Bike Ride's subtle "Good Company" for my 2023 song of the summer, I almost went with a song by the Japanese House — the project of English indie pop musician Amber Bain — called "Sunshine Baby." Bain has just gone ahead and topped herself (near-pun a happy accident) this summer, though, with a new single called ":)."

Topping herself is a pun this Pride Month, dear reader, because the singer-songwriter wrote the song about coming to terms with her sexuality, and falling in love with a girl who lived in Detroit, MI, over a dating app. "Turns out I did buy the plane tickets, now we're engaged," Bain explained in a press release.

":)" absolutely captures that giddy rush of falling for someone and the underlying current of anxiety when there are obstacles in the way. It sees hope as the life force that it is, propelling the song — anchored by the simple refrain, "Something's happening / I feel happier / I could be losing my mind / But something's happening" — as it chugs forward with a tangle of twanged-out strings.

Whether Bain is taking a cue from current tour mate Maggie Rogers's recent work or the undying country trend, the pedal steel and fret buzz lend themselves nicely to her reverb-heavy atmospherics — as does the careening tempo of running into the unknown, the twine knots you've tied yourself in fraying into a fibre bouquet of new threadbare paths to follow.


(Dirty Hit)

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