ALBUM REVIEW: Kishi Bashi Creates Light out of Darkness on ‘Omoiyari’

Even without the premise, this album will make your day brighter

From the dark premise of Japanese internment in the United States during World War II, Kishi Bashi’s fourth album Omoiyari radiates with air and lightness. Doubling as the soundtrack to the documentary “songfilm” of the same name, the composer, multi-instrumentalist and former Jupiter One/Of Montreal member seeks to explore our relationships with our fellow man, in a time when we’re becoming increasingly divided.

(Per the film’s website, “Omoiyari” is a “Japanese word that means to have sympathy and compassion towards another person.”)

On first listen, you wouldn’t be able to determine the darkness’s at its heart; the music fills your ears, and you become swept away on an ocean of sound. Best classified as indie pop, this album has elements of My Morning Jacket with its big, filling orchestrations around tender, soulful lyrics. A track like “A Meal for Leaves” wouldn’t be out of place on The Waterfall.

With Bashi’s lone voice against a slow, melodic piano, “Theme for Jerome (Forgotten Words)” is so beautiful it could make the world stand still. (This one has gone straight into my playlist of best tracks of the year.)

Bashi ends the album on the jaunty, almost sea-shanty-like “Annie, Heart Thief of the Sea,” a delightful catchy and uplifting way to end a very pleasant forty minutes. 

The album shows that even in darkness, hope and happiness can still be found. Even if you don’t make the connection with Omoiyari’s source of inspiration, this album will make your day brighter. And in the end, that may have been its main purpose all along.

Score: 🐦🐦🐦🐦/5