An intriguing heritage from a fledgling band, provide fascination and sharp insights from the U.S-Anglo raconteurs.
Availability: '1Q84' is available at http://soundcloud.com/jingomusic/1q84
I admire the bravery of this terrific new band...
for a number of different reasons. For one, their name is almost Google-proof. Happening upon any previous reviews or press releases is a haphazard and beguiling venture. There are other acts called Jingo, but they have little commonality with our guys. One seems to be a Kenyan outfit, whom have produced some rather obscure and untenable sounds via Last FM. Another appear to be Hispanic in origins; once again appearing not to be too concerned with cross-border popularity or demographic-conquering intentions. Fortunately what I have heard from our transatlantic brethren, is much more awe-inspiring and tangible. I was intrigued by the naming of the band, as well as the track. Not to become too entrenched by etymology, but the band name is a shrewd choice. Jingoism is the act of extraordinary patriotism, in a sense an extended form of nationalism, which prioritises the interests of nativeness, above that of anything else. It makes for a fascinating and sly syllable deconstruction. The music born forth by our trio is a staunch and solid foreign policy. The song title- 1Q84- is Japanese in origins. It was the title given to a Haruki Murakami novel a few years ago. The title of the novel was a play on words. As you can guess it is a parody in a sense of George Orwell's '1984'- the letter Q means '9' in Japanese. It was a clever and unique homophone, and one which the band have cleverly readopted. Already, without experiencing a single note or plaintive whisper, there is a variegated and novelistic foreword.
As for the group themselves, they are a dynamic and curious three-piece affair. They are, consequently, Joseph Reeves, Jack Buckett, and his U.S. spouse Katie. The three have been making music with other bands for a fair few years, and have recently decided to embark upon a shared venture. For the time being, they have a modest Facebook following (168 'likes' as of the time of this review), and have a loyal and devout group of co-patriots. It is a unique genetic composite, and one that has not been seen too often on the music scene. We had a similar nationality cross-breeding with Fleetwood Mac, The Magic Numbers, and a few other acts, but they are few and far between. With a diluvian of excellence already produced by the three, they have nothing to prove in terms of quality. Jingo is their baby, and the espoused and fraternal nuclear family are determined that it will grow into a rather impressive adult. The first steps have been filmed, celebrated, replayed infinitely and been collated for prosperity in scrapbook and annuals. With broad smiles, and injections of confidence, the first words have been captured, and the resultant '1Q84' is cultured and beautiful.
There is a little oriental flavour and spice to be heard within the introduction. Armoured with chopstick percussion and guitar work disinclined to rest its feet, it is a rousing and tight start and multifaceted. As well as a nod to the Far East, there is a sense of electronic acts like Tricky or Massive Attack in the spirit and voyeurism of the start. There is no clue or inclination as to where the track will go or what the vocals have in store. Perhaps not imbued with a laudatory smile the lyrics have a little pessimism in their early stages. Our American siren is exclaiming how the world is not a fair place, explaining: "It won't be make-believe/If you believe in me". As you settle into your seat, ready to delve deeper into their subconscious, a marauding and rampant drumbeat strikes up, and strikes fear into the heart. The beat staggers and struts, perhaps arrhythmical, to the foreground; it is a rush of blood to a monochrome canvas. The vocal has a pleasing restraint and uniqueness to it. There are perhaps little hints of early-career Beth Gibbons, but aside from that, Katie's voice is its own woman. For the initial eight of the track, the lyrical theme remains unabated, pertaining to the subjects of the realities of life and the redemptive truths of love. The percussion and guitar remain impressively propulsive, remaining strong and unabashed throughout. There is a sonic and dramatic shift soon after. The guitar becomes less karate chop, and more scratchy. It sounds at first like a more melodic, restrained cousin to Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. It is an impressive sea-change and the modulation from syncopated and Asiatic, to a London-via-Washington indie-grunge mutation is impressive. The vocal is lighter and more wistful, and the lyrics still have a sensitive side: "but you'll always have my heart". The drums again wallop like a adrenalin-filled heart, pulsating when needed to elevate and punctuate the mood. The indie twang and strum of the guitar is a little bit The Kooks, a tiny bit early-Bird Courage and Arctic Monkeys. After a successful ascent of the mountain, after a slight snowstorm, there is a 30ft fall ahead. The electricity of the music is replicated in the vocals, as Katie is a woman overwhelmed, and under foot. She is overcome and exacerbated: "Baby please/You've got me on my knees", is evocatively pronounced, portraying dramatic tension and rain-swept romantic tableaux. Our heroine implores to her paramour to not leave her and to take her with him. One can draw comparisons with female contemporaries such as P!nk, The Pretty Reckless and Adele, but she there is a credibility and intelligence that the first two do not posses, and unlike Adele, the emphasis is not on vocal alone. The backing is by no means subterfuge- it is right there holding our protagonist's hand. It is the changing moods and story-line twists, that infuse this song with such mystery and electricity. Very few modern bands can credibly pull off so many dips and switches and remain gripping. Jingo do it style. There is a real sense of story and parable in the lyrical arc, and this is sublimated by the nervy and fractious bait and switch. Around 1:51 there is a palpable rise in blood pressure as the vocal is held; guitar and instrumentation peaks, and the refrained "Baby please..." is with us, once more. It is an emotional coda, which far from being too morose, has a redemptive sensibility. The message is effective, and towards 3:00, the guitar contracts and bungees with elasticity, weaves and forges new paths. There are elements of U.S. acts such as The Eagles, Steely Dan and Queens of the Stone Age, which creates a heady and exciting bubble. The synthesised blends and notes give way to the chorus as we come to a close.
I have gone into...detail, as it is a compelling and unexpected treat. I was made aware of the group via a shared association with divinely intriguing chanteuse Lisa Marini. The polygamous respect and kinship that the group have is evident. There are no loose ends of frayed edges. The song is tight, focused and well rehearsed, and I am sure will become a live favourite. The combination of a singalong and memorable chorus, sharp and ubiquitous lyrics and an enthralling and battling percussion and electric guitar support that sets this song above many put forth by their peers. The shifting and unpredictable changes in tone and mood keep the track fascinating and unique, and is something many other groups would not think to do. The entire effect is contagious and commendable, and for a first song for a new band , it is quite an achievement. The vocals are assured, impassioned and powerful, suggesting colours of artists past and present, but at its bedrock it is an original and strong vocal. It ties American and England together in a beautiful alliance and creates a song that will stick in your head for a while.
Where Jingo go from here, is unsure. I am confident there will be an E.P. and album, and I hope that it is soon, as I am already hungry for more. I can suggest no negatives or offer constructive criticisms, as there are no faults here. If the song was too indebted to other tracks or played it safe, I would have said as much, but it retains and promotes all-conquering ambition, and possess a rare authenticity. Many establish acts reach a career point where they have peaked, yet continue to churn out albums when they have hit their creative rock bottom. The assumption that a sort of Kobayashi Maru can solve things is never wise or critically appreciated. I feel that Jingo will not be in danger of become stale at all, as they have a sense of adventure and will not be in danger of autosomal dominant. It is the mutual love and respect that they have for one another, coupled with a much-needed musical template that will see them playing festivals and wooing many a person, for years to come. The first song is always the scariest to premiere, as careers can be made, lost, crushed, or incubated on the strength of it. I suspect there will be more Facebook love very soon and an expansive Internet profile soon after, because soon enough...
... these guys are going to be very big, indeed.