George Clark reviews The Japanese House’s latest single
The Japanese House’s Amber Bain seems to have a talent for infectious, original pop music and “Something Has to Change” is no exception, a deceptively mellow song with lyrics aching for a break to routine.
From the first lines (“You caught the same train / And you took it back / To the same place”), this song is full of repeated journeys undertaken by someone in emotional stasis, someone whose day-to-day repetitions are reflections on their inability to modify their emotional mistakes. The music video adds more repetitive behaviours to the mix: Bain rides an ancient-looking exercise bike (a classic way of feeling like moving without travelling at all), piles up clothes around herself, waters enough plants to fill the Chelsea Flower Show and drinks enough red cans of something to put Coca-Cola out of business.
Bain shows us both how frustrating routine is, but also how devilishly easy it can be to slip back into old habits
There is a cleverly meta-lyrical dimension to the chorus in the stark irony of repeating “Something has to change” twenty times through the song. Not only does this really drum home both the repetitive-ness of this person’s life, but also Bain’s frustration at them for not changing it. That frustration is something that pretty much everyone can emphasise with: seeing someone you care about making the same mistakes again and again.
At the end of the video, we see Bain triumphantly leaving all of these habits behind, freeing herself of the bad domestic and emotional routines which govern the life of this song. The soporific beat, repetitive chorus and restless verses balance in perfect harmony. Bain shows us both how frustrating routine is, but also how devilishly easy it can be to slip back into old habits.