There’s trouble in Paradise and it has nothing to do with PEI’s Jenn Grant wanting to shed the limitations of a music persona knee deep in the trappings of today’s crowded acoustic music scene; Bon Iver did just that quite successfully last year with his ground breaking 22, A Million album. Nor is there anything wrong with husband Daniel Ledwell’s layers of lush electro dreampop. The problem lies squarely with the songs themselves. Rather than producing a wealth of music rich with ebb and flow, Paradise, Grant’s 6th album in a decade, yields 11 static tracks which simply fail to bloom in any sort of way. After a strong start with the Art Of Noise “Moments In Love” sounding title track Grant mumbles her way through the remainder of the album, her lazy diction making it difficult to connect in any meaningful way to the lyrics which are, for the most part, indecipherable without the help of a lyric sheet. With vocal stylings reminiscent of Florence and the Machine and classic Jane Sibery, Grant’s Paradise is one step closer to embracing the promise of the album’s beautifully silhouetted chanteuse inspired cover art, she’s just not there yet.
After a near 20 year absence The Jesus And Mary Chain are back, sounding every bit as youthful and energized as ever. Utilizing the classic JAMC elements of reverb and distortion, three chords and a guitar, Damage And Joy seamlessly carries on where their 1985 Psychocandy debut left off some 32 years after the fact. Their first album since 1998’s Munki, the Scottish Reid brothers’ new music continues to be heavily indebted to the heroes of their youth, patterning their classic sound with layers of slowed down Stooges and Velvet Underground inspired fuzz guitar coupled with the melodic echo chamber vocal sensibilities of ’60’s girl groups The Shangri-Las and Phil Spector’s own wall-of-sound protégés The Ronettes. Superbly produced by UK record producer Youth featuring guest vocal spots by Sky Ferreira, Reid sister Linda Fox, Bernadette Denning and former Belle & Sebastian Isobel Campbell, Damage And Joy’s 14 tracks roll out a steady stream of 3 and a half minute pop songs guaranteed to keep summer swinging all year long.
Pure Comedy is anything but. With nary a laugh to be found Josh Tillman’s alter ego Father John Misty has released his 11th album in 14 years, 12th if you include his one record four year stint drumming for Seattle’s hipster folk darlings Fleet Foxes. The fact that Tillman released Pure Comedy one week before Easter (the Friday before Good Friday being as close to an Easter release as one can possibly have seeing as most shops are closed on Good Friday) seems more than just an obvious nod linking the album to Dante’s 14th century Divine Comedy documenting the author’s journey through heaven and hell from the night before Good Friday through to the Wednesday after Easter. This, coupled with the Hieronymus Bosch inspired cover art aping the 15th century artist’s macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell appear to be Tillman’s way of telling us that all is not well. Tillman openly lashes out at his Evangelical Christian upbringing lamenting the sad state of human affairs in the year twenty and seventeen while mocking his own sense of rock star self importance due in part to his most recent successes. A dark and ambitious album steeped in dense language and haunting arrangements, Pure Comedy is by no means a laugh a minute Saturday night on the town party record but more a Sunday morning pastoral meditation, quiet, thoughtful and reflective. Rating: 9/10
No fathomable amount of planetary hyperbole could ever come close to describing just how wonderfully huge and joyous this record is, even in it’s darkest moments. Absolutely guaranteed to be the official soundtrack to summer 2017. Get yours today and start reveling in the memories you will no doubt be sure to forge all summer long with this stunning bit of EDM electro-pop R&B plastic soul.