Michelle Zauner's songs are tender, but perverse — there's a break in the sweetness barrier that expels unspoken desire with a forceful glimmer. That's what made Japanese Breakfast's 2017 album Soft Sounds from Another Planet, in particular, so riveting.
When Zauner returned in April with the single "Essentially," the synth-pop palette was brighter, but fed into the sometimes dark, but very real jealousy that surrounds new love. Which is what makes this Tears for Fears cover — recorded in the same W Hotels session, with a portion of streaming proceeds benefiting the American Civil Liberties Union — such a sympathetic companion piece.
"Japanese Breakfast has recorded a beautiful, ethereal reimagining of 'Head Over Heels,'" approves Curt Smith, co-founder of Tears for Fears, in a press release.
Originally released in 1985, "Head Over Heels" was the pinnacle of soft-lit melodrama — a deliriously romantic love song that drops rose petals to the floor, but locks the door. Roland Orzabal's voice leaps with anxiety as he pleads, "Ah, don't take my heart, don't break my heart / Don't, don't, don't throw it away."
Zauner slows and strips down the melodrama of "Head Over Heels" to a warm, Rhodes-style piano ballad, pausing the twinkling pace just long enough to emphasize the song's key question: "With one foot in the past now just how long will it last?"