Monday, May 5, 2008

There's Something Suspicous Going on Here...

The Urge of the Evil

The mind transfixes. Drained are all alternative thoughts as the primary subconscious takes rite. Restraint is futile. It is basic. It is real. At times it must be suppressed. Other times the self-discipline never takes hold. It does as it pleases with no regard. Such is the power of an Urge. Be warned of those that come under shadow of the dark.

At the core of every great band lies the urge to overwhelm and overcome. Overwhelm the senses and overcome the expected and assumed. At the core of every great album is a band at balance with the force of urge. Risks are taken, new territory explored while arrangements and sounds are twisted, mangled, disassembled and meticulously replaced. The new beast rarely resembles the creature of its origin, but contains the same soul.

There are common downfalls in the art of the great. Expectations for a direction can destroy an album for some (Sky Blue Sky) other albums are rushed and sound unfinished and unfocused (The Information). Despite the notion of losing a core fan base or losing an identity, bands must take a risk as an essential evolution. It’s a risk worth taking and if the band has true mettle it will rise again, stronger than before. A change in sound is sometimes crucial for the members of the band but can still alienate despite displayed brilliance (Kid A, Good News for People Who Love Bad News).

When these urges are nurtured and directed there is no stopping the might. Such is the case with Z, the album that launched Jacket into the stratosphere of the elite. To change sound again would be an act of evil? Will yet another rebirth lead the band into legend status or leave them in a wallow of over zealousness.

When Beck went acoustic and the Jack White sat at a piano the world of music raised an ear. How had such come to be? These seemingly masters of a craft reinvented themselves at the height of notoriety for what they had become. It is a rare feat. It can kill a band as easily as it can save it (Use Your Illusions).

Jacket has teased and edged into other worlds but never fully engrossed as they have on Urges. It’s being tagged a ‘funk, Prince influenced, rollick,’ but listen deeper and its true nature rears its head.

It yearns to be an epic, theatrical declaration in the lineage of Pink Floyd, but in what these eyes hear falls short of such company.

Before I discourage further reading, let me state that this is a powerful and important album and dispute some issues, I believe it inescapably defines Jacket as the most important active American band. It does however wallow in the over zealousness.

Like the before mentioned Illusions, the album plays as a string of tracks or a series of songs, where Z plays as a coherent album (they both have the awful over tracked deep voice overs that never work). If that concept is not one you can readily grasp then think of it in this manner: Urges sounds like a exercise in experimentation to stretch sounds, delve deeper in that which they have explored before and because of such focus it losses the ‘album’ stigma and plays as a collection of songs…many of which are stunning and atop the Jacket pile, while others play as leftovers from It Still Moves. Whether Jacket is prepared to accept the fate or not, the defining song on this collection is Highly Suspicious. The title itself speaks volumes.

It denotes a choice by the fans, one that will likely split them into two camps. Those that will accept the High of the sound and those Suspicious with its intent. It’s overproduced, overdone and far too theatrical (sounds like time with Wax Fang has had an influence), but I must commend Jacket on the risk. It’s not a song I’ll likely play much and could easily go without in the live show, but it makes a statement. This band refuses to be pigeonholed.

Some claim Jacket invented a genre of its own, I agree. The peers are bold and exceptional (Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Songs:Ohia etc.) which forces the parent to adapt or die. Jacket Adapted. Essentially, Jacket has always been theatrical, over the top and tending towards heavy metal styling. This is just the first crack at becoming Evil.

Urges is dualistic in nature. On one hand it displays the might of the finest Southern Rock Anthem band of the modern era; I’m Amazed, Sec Walkin’, Smokin from Shootin’, in the other hand is screams of the Evil. Evil Urges despite being the title track lends itself more towards the sound of Z. Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Parts 1 and 2) are the album in many ways. They swirl between distinction of old and new, but never reach the might of Z’s Gideon. That is where I see the album as falling short. The songs loose the exploration within themselves. They roll out loud, but poppy, tight and rarely surprising. That’s not to say they aren’t good songs, they are, I just mean to say there wasn’t the powerful unknown that came with Z.

To be honest I could do without Librarian and Look at You, Jacket has been there before. TMIGTS2 sounds a lot like Cobra Jr. At its core, this album remains Highly Suspicious. Oddly, I think that’s why I am so into it.

I want so badly for my favorite bands to take massive risks. If they truly are the amazing acts they seem to be then they’ll either blow me away (Yankee, Hotel, Foxtrot) or make a step towards a sound that will ultimately blow me away (Alligator before Boxer).

Fight the Urge to resist the change and let the Evil reside. Deep down inside this album is all Jacket and that, well that is fucking amazing.

Here’s to the best American band defying expectations and getting Evil with them Urges!

LTME’s track of the album: Aluminum Park

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