DESPITE THE name, Japanese Breakfast - vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, Michelle Zauner - is not Japanese, but Korean-American, and musically, this new album is indebted to the1990s lo-fi American alternative rock and British shoegaze movements.
The metronomic beat, Zauner's languid vocals, and the guitars - chiming, swirling, distorted, reaching psychedelic atmospherics by the end - place the magnificent opener 'Diving Woman' firmly in that latter camp; while another highlight, the guitar ravaged indie-pop of '12 Steps' will stir the heart of anyone into Julianna Hatfield back in the day.
Not that this album should be seen as one young woman's 'best of the nineties', for there is diversity at work here - be it in the contrast between the taut rhythm and Zauner's dreamy, blissed out vocals on 'Road Head'; electro-pop ('Machinest' ), torch song balladry ('Till Death' ); or sixties girl-group pop ('Boyish' ) - and Zauner is more than able to handle each style, without the album becoming unfocused.
She has that all important knack for melody, and an understated, even off-hand, vocal delivery which actually gives her lyrics an emotional weight: "I don't deserve you, but I'm giving it my best" ('Till Death' ); "I can't get you off my mind/I can't get you off in general/So here we are, we're just two losers" ('Boyish' ). An album all indie fans - regardless of age/generation - should give an ear to.