Album Review: The Static Jacks – In Blue

By on Thursday, 26th September 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Static Jacks In Blue coverIt’s pretty sweet when you can watch a band’s progression through the years and see them grow up. That’s the sense I get with the Static Jacks from Westfield, New Jersey. Back in my early years as a music journalist, I seemed to have much more time to investigate the support bands on a bill and have some feeling even before I arrived whether or not I’d like them. I forget which song it was on their MySpace, but I was impressed enough to show up early for their opening slot with headliners the Futureheads and other opener, the short-lived girl group the Like (who, for the record, I didn’t like). I was not disappointed that night at the Black Cat in June 2010, nor was I when they opened Biffy Clyro‘s first headline show in the DC area, at DC9 in September 2010. At the time, they were probably best described as loud, abrasive, and fun. These three adjectives also work well to describe their 2011 debut album ‘If You’re Young’, and although that was only 2 years ago, it’s a great snapshot of what the Static Jacks were then.

In 2013, the New Jersey rockers offer up a new album called ‘In Blue’, to be released next Monday the 30th of September in America on Old Friends Records. There is still most definitely an element of fun on the new record – the same kind of “rah rah rah!” drunken fun reserved for house parties – but the Static Jacks sound has matured. Usually, I’ve found that’s a bad sign, especially if a band had become known for raucous recordings and live performances, and then they seemingly suddenly morph into another band without warning. The 11 songs that make up ‘In Blue’ show a clear progression of the band in becoming better songwriters, with catchy as hell choruses and stick in your head guitar riffs, while not losing the energy of youth.

Even the inclusion of the short, less than 2-minute long song ‘Horror Story’ to begin the proceedings shows wisdom; ‘If You’re Young’ blasted your eardrums straight away with ‘Defend Rosie’, but in stark contrast, ‘Horror Story’ gently eases you into the new album, acting as if it’s one of those introductory clips at the start of the film to help set the scene for what is to come. Even Nick Brennan’s drums seem pensive until the song really gets going after the first minute. Singer Ian Devaney emotes, “take a stroll through your misery / I’m not afraid of the house or what you used to be / and now you wanna start again, so differently / I’m not afraid of the house or what you used to be”. Food for thought. Good way to start.

I’ve already discussed on TGTF previously revealed singles ‘I’ll Come Back’ (free mp3 here) and ‘Wallflowers’, which follow ‘Horror Story’ in quick succession. Both are exemplary on how to do guitar rock right: super memorable melodies, insistent instrumental bridges, singalong choruses. Maybe touring with Futureheads and Biffy in the States rubbed off on them in a good way. ‘Wallflowers’ in particular, simply because it’s a bit slower, showcases Devaney’s voice, and it’s not a hard stretch of imagination that girls will be swooning over him at their live shows. This will happen. I guarantee it. Guitar work by Henry Kaye and Michael Sue-Poi provide the perfect foil to the vocals in the song too.

The charm doesn’t end there. The relentless driving rhythms of ‘Home Again’ and ‘Katie Said’, paired with its wistful vocals, conjures up great ’80s power pop. Like the aforementioned singles, they’re tailor made for summer festival headbanging and dancing. ‘Decoder Ring’ has – gasp – buzzy synths. It’s not Foster the People, thank god, but more of an everyman anthem in the grand tradition style of fellow New Jerseyans Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.

However, it’s when you get closer to the end that you are met with the gems of this album. It’s interesting that this album is coming out in September, because title track ‘In Blue’ would be perfect in a rom-com to describe young love gone wrong in all its anguish, as if the guitar chords as they fly in mid air are sympathetic to the story. For sheer pop perfection, the award has to go to ‘People Don’t Forget’. And you won’t forget it. I am still hearing the words and infectious hooks in my heads days after I first heard the album. It’s that good.

Less poppy and more hard is ‘Ninety Salt’, which should suit those of the harder rock fraternity, with severe, severe guitar chords appropriate for severe headbanging. “Alone with all our feelings were bleeding out of me”: hello, ’90s angst rock. And if you’ve been paying attention up to now, you’re rewarded: lyrics from ‘Horror Story’ also reappear here. This is the song that best exemplifies this bit from their most recent press release: “In the end, we decided that we just want to watch the audience slowly headbang and lose their hearing.” Job well done, then.

9/10

The Static Jacks’ sophomore album ‘In Blue’ will be released on Monday the 30th of September in America on Old Friends Records.

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7 Responses

12:02 pm
26th September 2013

Album Review: The Static Jacks @thestaticjacks’ brilliant second album ‘In Blue’ out next week on @OldFriendsRec: http://t.co/1VFJChkBdM

1:01 pm
26th September 2013

RT @tgtf: Album Review: The Static Jacks @thestaticjacks’ brilliant second album ‘In Blue’ out next week on @OldFriendsRec: http://t.co/1VF…

1:03 pm
26th September 2013

90% sure the new @thestaticjacks album ‘In Blue’ is going to be my favourite album of 2013. read here: http://t.co/CEvHs9c0Lz (via @tgtf)

1:04 pm
26th September 2013

RT @theprintedword: 90% sure the new @thestaticjacks album ‘In Blue’ is going to be my favourite album of 2013. read here: http://t.co/CEvH…

4:26 pm
26th September 2013

RT @tgtf: Album Review: The Static Jacks @thestaticjacks’ brilliant second album ‘In Blue’ out next week on @OldFriendsRec: http://t.co/1VF…

7:48 pm
26th September 2013

RT @tgtf: Album Review: The Static Jacks @thestaticjacks’ brilliant second album ‘In Blue’ out next week on @OldFriendsRec: http://t.co/1VF…

[…] they’re stars in their own right, with their stellar second album on Old Friends Records, ‘In Blue’, was released last […]

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