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The Japanese House: Tiny Desk Concert

The Japanese House, a.k.a. the recording project of U.K. singer-songwriter Amber Bain, put out my favorite album of 2023: In the End It Always Does is an irresistible electro-pop record full of warmly relatable songs about desire, regret and the fear that no one will ever love you as much as the dog nestled in your lap. It's a wonderful record that's buoyed by impeccably chosen guests — MUNA's Katie Gavin, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, two members of The 1975 — and a pervasive mood of low-key dreaminess.

At the Tiny Desk, Bain recasts four of In the End It Always Does' songs in fresh arrangements that swap out the synths while highlighting the more organic sounds of brushed drums, a violin, a spare piano and the occasional baritone sax. And, though she closes with the album's effervescent lead single "Boyhood," Bain also uses her set to center the album's softer material — particularly the lush gem "Baby Goes Again," which has no business languishing as a deep cut.


  • "Sunshine Baby"
  • "Baby Goes Again"
  • "Over There"
  • "Boyhood"


  • Amber Bain: guitar, piano, lead vocals 
  • Cicely Cotton: piano, saxophone, vocals 
  • Kamran Khan: guitar, vocals
  • Dominic Potts: bass, vocals 
  • Myles Sargent: drums 
  • Chloe Kraemer: violin


  • Producer: Stephen Thompson
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Technical Director: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Kara Frame, Mitra I. Arthur
  • Audio Engineer: Neil Tevault 
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Zayrha Rodriguez
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Hazel Cills
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)