Pick of the Week: The Japanese House “:)”

A light grey banner with a pink smiley face and white text that reads: "The Japanese House." Next to it is a pink smiley face symbol in pink.
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

By Ren Gibson, Staff Writer

The softness of the Japanese House’s new single, “:),” is exactly what indie-pop radio needs right now as summer is in full force. A happy song with lovestruck lyrics about a summer crush, “:)” is catchy, relatable and the perfect new earworm for your seasonal playlist. 

Lead singer Amber Bain announced the single through her Instagram on June 13th, 2024. In a separate post, Bain describes the song as something that she wrote at the time that she realized she was a lesbian and subsequently met her now fiancée. “I wrote this song when I was talking to someone off of an app…[I] never thought it would go anywhere 'cause she lived in Detroit and I live in London,” Bain writes over an Instagram Reel, featuring footage of herself smiling. “Then I realized that I was gay, specifically lesbian, so I had to buy plane tickets to Detroit and then move to Detroit and then get engaged all within a year.” 

The yearning that Bain mentions that drove her to write the song is everclear in the lyrics, of course, but also in the instrumentals. The guitar makes the quick tempo of the song reminiscent of the feeling of butterflies and the happy whimsy that is commonly associated with the beginning of a relationship. 



Despite the simplicity of the song, Bain’s lyrics are heartfelt and evoke a great feeling that anyone who has ever had a crush can relate to. A powerful story is told within the three minutes in which she sings. Having a crush turns the right person into a hopeless romantic, as she introduces her love interest within the first few lyrics: “Talking to someone, she lives in the states… My friends all say it's crazy. You know what? Maybe it is. Who cares?” 

The chorus reflects the next step of growing into a new relationship: spontaneity. “I had a feeling on the phone at 3 a.m. that something needed to be done. And now I’m jumping on a jet,” Bain sings. The extreme lengths Bain dreams of jumping to (which weren’t exaggerations; she bought the plane tickets to Detroit that night) represent the phase of a relationship where all you want to do is be with the person you like. 

It’s notable that the repetition of the phrase “I feel happier” lasts all throughout the song. The phrase serves as less of a statement and more of a confirmation as the song draws closer to its end. She recognizes that she feels happier, and now that she is doing something that she’s meant to do, she truly notices the change to being happier. 


Starting later this month, the Japanese House will be embarking on a U.S. tour for the rest of the year. Starting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bain will continue to release singles as she tours throughout the summer supported by artists Skullcrusher, Miya Folick, and Abby Holliday. Some special guests, such as Maggie Rogers, also have made appearances.

While The Japanese House is not slated to come to Boston within the next few months, we at ‘ERS eagerly await the release of more fun singles that celebrate love from Bain.


Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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