On her third album and first in four years, Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast bursts through with pop exuberance on Jubilee. It’s clear that Zauner was intentional with the timing of the release: between the waning of the pandemic and the seven year mark since the passing of her mother, Jubilee is a triumph to the light at the end of the tunnel of the cycle of grief.
“So much of the last two albums have been about grief and loss,” Zauner said. “And I feel like this album is very much about moving forward and embracing joy and allowing yourself to experience joy again.”
Part of that transition came from her memoir, Crying in H Mart, which debuted at no. 2 on the New York Times’ Best Sellers list, and “really was my way of kind of closing that book on that part of my life, and starting a new chapter,” Zauner said.
The songs themselves have a way of announcing that the record is a new beginning for Zauner not just emotionally, but musically. Stunning string and horn arrangements help solidify the optimistic mood across the album, and welcome Zauner’s return.
Just as important as experiencing happiness is Zauner’s intense desire to experience it on the record. The second half of Jubilee balances the two in tandem, shifting the landscape to a more solemn and yearning view of emotion, and how cravings can swallow us whole. It’s filled with cathartic moments and slowly builds into a distorted and intense guitar solo that takes it all away beautifully.