The 5th extended play in Amber Baines long-winded and decorated catalog
Chewing Cotton Wool – a metaphor used to describe the deceased state of something. As a mortician would provide a gauze-like cotton sleeve in the mouth of the cadaver to prevent fluids from draining out (Genius).
Grim? Yeah, definitely a little. Genius? Also a yes. In the final track’s ending, Amber points to the EP’s title by describing her then ended relationship as one that is “chewing cotton wool”. Another nod to The Japanese House’s metaphor-driven lyricism – something that her fans have come to expect.
The Japanese House is owned by 26-year-old, English singer/songwriter, and Dirty Hit signee Amber Bain. Known for her distorted vocals and synth-backed melodies, Amber has amassed hundreds of millions of plays and is one of the largest indie pop artists currently. (Why The Japanese House name? check out this wiki site)
I’ve come to enjoy Amber’s tunes so much that I figured it was time to give her most recent EP a good ol’ review. See below for a track-by-track breakdown of “Chewing Cotton Wool”.
The project starts out with “Sharing Beds” – a short, under 2min expression of Amber’s current thoughts. Like the entire EP, this track is about a mangled relationship. This track only has ~30 words in it’s singular verse, but it says enough.
I personally love a good prelude… it sets the stage for what’s to come and draws you in. As for the production of “Sharing Beds”, she reaches for a more subdued backdrop. While this highlights her few vocals, it also lets you settle in to the project.
“Something Has to Change”
The most listened to track on the project (and for good reason). The catchiness of the track’s chorus draws you in and plants “something has to change” in your head where it will most likely stay for weeks. The song is led by a smooth drum/guitar combo, but also showcases her sporadic random background fillers.
Bain uses her marquee track to harp on the perpetual nature of her relationship.. hence the “over and over again” and the “heart keeps breaking in the same place”. Nothing is changing AND she’s been in this position before.
“Dionne (feat. Justin Vernon)”
My personal favorite. You can’t TELL me a better feature selection to have on this EP than Justin Vernon. You may recognize his signature hollowed-out vocals from his role in Bon Iver. He plays such a crucial part in “Dionne” by breaking the song up and providing some depth – I hope this isn’t the last we see of this collaboration.
“Dionne” has a lot to say as the most drawn-out track out of the bunch. However, the underlying confession is simple: she doesn’t want to come on too strong in fear of messing things up. Surprisingly, the song has a high-pitched, energetic run to it (for such a solemn message). TJP can make anything happen though so I guess I’m not surprised.
“Chewing Cotton Wool“
The closing remarks of the 4-piece – Amber takes a slow burn approach and chooses to focus on her vocals/lyrics. Behind her voice you can hear soft, twinkling piano as if to say “this is it folks”. My favorite aspect of the track is how many different ways she can say that her once love is finished in such a creative way. See the list below:
She’s the dust upon the sill
She’s the curtain at the end
She’s someone else’s drink
She’s the whirlpool in the sink
She’s a memory I record
She’s chewing cotton wool
A great way to cap off a phenomenal record.
We love Amber Bain and you should too. Take a spin through The Japanese House’s “Chewing Cotton Wool” and report back. If you’re a fan of this EP we guarantee you’ll dig her previous works. Turn it up and enjoy.
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