Another one of Paste’s most-anticipated records of 2021 is coming into focus, as Michelle Zauner has made her forthcoming third full-length as Japanese Breakfast official. Zauner revealed the details of her new album (June 4, Dead Oceans) on Tuesday alongside the music video for lead single “Be Sweet,” the culmination of a trail of breadcrumbs that included video outtakes, X-Files references and fruit emojis (those are persimmons on the album cover) aplenty.
The follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed Soft Sounds From Another Planet and Japanese Breakfast’s 2016 breakout Psychopomp finds Zauner moving beyond the sorrow that drove those records, and working towards hard-earned happiness. Jubilee’s first single has a retro feel similar to Soft Sounds, but also a big, bass-driven buoyancy new to the band’s output, with an almost Chic-like low end pushing the danceable track forward. Lyrically, the song connects directly to Zauner’s 2019 tweet about the album’s theme being “please just be nice to me”—“Be sweet to me, baby / I want to believe in you, I want to believe in something,” she sings on the hooky choruses, the centerpiece of an impressive vocal performance. The video, shot by Zauner’s frequent collaborator Adam Kolodny, follows those lyrics to their natural conclusion: a delightful X-Files parody in which Zauner and her fellow agent (played by Marisa Dabice of Mannequin Pussy) have a close encounter of the third kind.
“After spending the last five years writing about grief, I wanted our follow-up to be about joy,” says Zauner in a statement. “For me, a third record should feel bombastic and so I wanted to pull out all the stops for this one. I wrote ‘Be Sweet’ with Jack Tatum from Wild Nothing a few years ago. I’ve been holding onto it for so long and am so excited to finally put it out there.”
Zauner took theory lessons and studied the piano for the first time in the lead-up to Jubilee, working to fill out her songwriting skillset. “I’ve never wanted to rest on any laurels,” she explains. “I wanted to push it as far as it could go, inviting more people in and pushing myself as a composer, a producer, an arranger.”
As if all that weren’t enough, Zauner also has a book on the way: Her long-awaited memoir Crying In H Mart, based on her 2018 New Yorker essay of the same name, arrives April 20 via Knopf.
Watch the “Be Sweet” video below, and find the details of Jubilee further down. You can preorder the album right here.
02. Be Sweet
03. Kokomo, IN
04. Slide Tackle
05. Posing in Bondage
07. Savage Good Boy
08. In Hell
10. Posing for Cars
Jubilee Album Art: