26 August 2008

Jaguar Love – Take Me to the Sea



Described to this writer as 'Blood Brothers go emo', Jaguar Love's debut record is actually only 'emo' in as much as Blood Brothers were: this is to say not very. Former 'Brothers Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato are joined by erstwhile Pretty Girls Make Graves member Jay Clark in a multi-instrumentalist melange.

Many old fans will be turned off by what may seem 'selling out', the celebratory chaos of 'Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck' and 'Trash Flavored Trash' consigned to history in favour of largely normal (for them) rock songs. So, was the change warranted, or is this an attempt by the trio to grasp for that shiny brass ring?

Marmite-unmistakeable are the vocals of Whitney. While he still squeals and raves as only he seems able, this is occasionally tempered to suit the more traditional structures on Take Me To The Sea. At times he recalls last BB producer Guy Picciotto, fitting as Guy always seemed to present the more fiery side of the Fugazi vocal Yin and Yang.

The Jag Love approach to writing pays off well, actually a logical progression considering BB swansong Young Machetes was slightly further along the sobriety continuum than what immediately preceded. Opening track, and initial single, 'Highways of Gold' eases us in, establishing that this is less frenetic than, say, Crimes, but ensuring we know who is involved. The song rocks with an impressive solidity thanks to guitarist Votolato.

It is quite clear that hooks are the order of the day; repeat listening is rewarded (or cursed) by melodies that bounce around one's cranium long after the record has finished. This practice is taken to its fullest extent on the ballad 'Georgia', which is presumably not an anti-Abkhaz piece. Satisfyingly lengthy, there are melody and changes aplenty on what could be a number 1 single in an alternate universe (where Boards Of Canada is the Beach Boys).

While some tracks rather meander, closing brace 'The Man with the Plastic Suns' and 'My Organ Sounds Like...' are possibly the strongest songs, distilling the quicksilver neo-prog of Mars Volta into far more manageable chunks. its forty-two minutes are the perfect length for the music, promising big things for the future while satiating present hunger.

***

Haven't really listened to it since writing this review under duress. Good album though. I'd just like to mention my sadness at both the untimely end of Be Your Own PET and my inability to see them perform on their current, final, tour.

Speaking of final tours, I would like to mention the time I saw Blood Brothers. It was great, lots of energy for once. Both singers were pretty hot, too. Anyway, great show; felt like a party. Kind of had to end after that, as there weren't many things they could do to top that level of performance and quality. It was therefore sad to see them go, but I was content. Unlike the BYOP split. That was out of order. And sorry for all the fragmented sentences.

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