If you’ve heard me talk about music in the last couple weeks or so, you’ve probably heard me rave about bizarre British singer-songwriter Amber Bain, AKA The Japanese House. As with any new musical discovery, I had early favourites (Still, Swim Against The Tide, 3/3 (when it released)), and predictably pointed most of my attention at those tracks.
Well, today, I officially have a new favourite The Japanese House song. Sugar Pill is just as weird as anything in her catalogue, with a few gorgeous production decisions that have me saying “wow” pretty much every time, most of which revolve around the re-intro and second verse. It’s an incredible, moving track on its own, and I was already ready to talk about it to anyone who would listen, but then I found this live version:
If this is your first time ever seeing The Japanese House live (and, of course it is, because who even knows about this band, let alone hunts down youtube videos of them), you’ll notice a few things right away. First, Amber’s stage presence is just as weird as you’d imagine. She stands so close to the microphone and keeps her face so un-moving you can barely even tell she’s singing. She essentially showed more emotion while introducing the song than while actually playing it. She plays her guitar upside-down. She’s wearing an oversized ‘USA Sport’ jumper. I’ll remind you she’s definitely British.
I’ve watched a few (read: all) of the pro-shot live videos of this band on youtube, and this performance is easily the most striking. Let’s return to the middle of the song (The re-intro starts at about 1:44, if you’re following along at home). Watching Amber sing that second verse (specifically the mid-verse six-word, “I feel flimsy when I grin”) with such a blank face is devastating in an other-worldy sort of sense. It’s a performance unlike any other, and at this point, I’m pretty confident saying Ms. Bain has replaced Imogen Heap as my celebrity crush. (One odd British songwriter to the next, I guess).