The band has always had a sweet relationship with Japan – in their early days some of their most ardent fans were from Japan, their good friend and photographer Mitch Ikeda is Japanese, and Richey had an affinity with many of the cultural norms. That it took this long to write a song that mentions Japan specifically may surprise some. Perhaps if that ‘City album’ that the band talked about many years ago had come around, then maybe it would have featured something related to Japan. Presumably this song and many of the other recent songs with a city name in the title were borne out of that concept.
Back to the song itself, and it’s another lonely, sad affair on an album filled with similar moments. However, the inclusion of the gorgeous Japanese strings is gripping and startling in its newness, not least because you don’t expect such things from the band, but because you never hear anything like this in modern Western music. That inclusion alone marks the song as one of the more interesting on the album for me. James whispers his way through the verses, and barely stretches beyond hushed words in the chorus, but the emotional core still manages to break through. It can’t quite escape the pervading dullness which seeps through the album. It’s simply another acoustic song with some interesting additions from the Japanese strings and electronic backing.
The Story Of The Song: I can’t be arsed quote hunting for every track, but given the band’s prior affinity for Japan it seems quite obvious that Nick still holds the Country and its capital in high esteem, even if it’s mainly because he can become completely isolated and unknown in its bustling streets. Hopefully I’m not gaslighting, but it’s not a song about how weird/futuristic/cute the place is, but like Australia it’s more used as a proxy for Nicky’s own desires – to be away, to be alone, to be at peace.