Musically, the world in 2016 is a strange unforgiving place with weekly cultural losses and a feeling of protest and anger rising. Sometimes what you need is some uncomplicated escapism. Almost two years to the day that JPNGRLS released their brilliantly fresh debut, Circulation, they are back in similar fashion with Divorce.
The Canadian four piece have grown in confidence musically if not stylistically, but the rather lazy often quoted comparisons with KOL, Artics etc. are pretty unhelpful. Lyrically they continue to offer a deliciously dark juxtaposition illustrated in the album opener, ‘Oh My God’, which makes fun of the current generation’s kids of divorce. As the album evolves the the one pleasing constant are the well constructed rhythms and chunky bass lines.
‘Bully for You’ tackles the awkward subject matter of sexism well and ‘Circus’ slows the tempo down, and again allows the bands percussionists to shine around singer Charlie Kerr’s recognisable vocal. But as you race towards the half way mark (previously known as end of side one) what you’re left with is a uplifting and joyous feeling that throws your into a bit of an unidentifiable but nostalgic spin.
True, the albums thirty two minutes contain a lot of similarities from the first record but are an enjoyable jaunt allowing the band to show off their tried and tested talent… If we are doing comparison (which I discourage), I would suggest file next to Dashboard Confessional or the lesser spotted but excellent Nightmare of You.
‘Holding Back’ is a nicely distorted assembly but the album then meanders slightly before ending with arguably the strongest track in ’19 Pound Baby’ that, as per their M.O, combines pounding bass with well thought out lyrics and an infectious riff.
The key for JPNGRLS is what next from the recording studio; the live show still being played out to small sweaty audiences (and that works nicely). Another album of 3 minute power pop may start to grow a little tiresome. But for now the acute observations of boy meets girl and subsequent somewhat pithy observations are just the ticket.
Divorce is out now via Light Organ Records.
James Van Praag