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  • Dead Oceans
“Boyish” artwork

Listen to the track below


“Boyish,” the second single from Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore record Soft Sounds From Another Planet, is a profound example of how Michelle Zauner has grown since her solo project’s beginnings. “Boyish” first appeared on Zauner’s indie rock band Little Big League’s 2014 record Tropical Jinx as a feedback-filled declaration of sexual frustration. Three years later, the track more closely resembles Psychopomp’s lush “In Heaven” than Tropical Jinx’s prickly guitars. What was once angry resentment (“I can’t get you off my mind/I can’t get you off in general”) now comes off as a mournful admission of reality atop sparkly synth strings and quivering drums. The song originally ended with Zauner delivering one final lash of loathing, a moment now simplified to delicate, sweeping plea: “Love me, love me!”

According to Zauner, she and prouder Craig Hendrix wanted “Boyish” to be a “grandiose Roy Orbison-esque ballad.” It does immediately recall “In Dreams,” the early-1960s Orbison hit that David Lynch revived, in an unorthodox manner, for Blue Velvet. Like “In Dreams,” this song’s vaporous orchestration and wistful harmonies communicate a cinematic melancholy and a forlorn future.

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