It's been a long time since I heard an album I was genuinely absorbed by, one that demanded a response.
The forthcoming release from rock three piece The Jet Age 'Destroy. Rebuild' did just that. It is an album of questions, of highs and lows, swerving from desperation to hope in dizzying and brilliantly absorbing chaos. In short it makes you feel, and think.
Created in the aftermath of the Baltimore riots and the death of Eric Garner in police custody whose last words 'I can't breathe' are immortalised here as a song, the album is swathed in desperation and fear. It's real, and the angst that runs through it is contagious.
It is also a fantastic listen. Ragged and open, recorded as live, the songs have an immediacy that is inviting. Opening track 'Don't make a sound' is an emotive introduction with immediate impact. Frontman Eric Tischler has a singular vocal, here at times plaintive over a refreshingly raw clamour of energised riffs and drums.
'I Wrote You This Song' is energetic and upbeat. It's the most neatly packaged track on the album - and it's stand out. It's followed by the moody, more downbeat 'It Starts With A Bang'. 'It ends with a hush' Tischler sings, doubt -filled, as the song meanders, not entirely cohesively, to it's finish.
'Who Will I Sing This Song For?' with it's steady foot tapping introduction, jangly guitars and strained vocal has the feel of a soundtrack - there's a journey in there somewhere. Harmonies add to the loose free vibe; we are a live audience at a band jam. In spite of the question, it's uplifting. Tischlers vocals are at their best.
This simple and unembellished sound is one of the album's greatest qualities.
"We recorded all the basic tracks live in the same room." Tischler explained. "It was awesome, because everyone could maintain eye contact, no one needed headphones and there was just enough bleed to glue it all together."
The result is the band play instinctively. Each instrument, every kick and chord is given space. There is a sense the sound is only loosely constructed and each musician plays freely. Pete Nuwayser on drums is outstanding throughout, dominant and defining. Eric Tischler meanders vocally above with bursts of guitar solos with Greg Bennett's bass lines snaking at will.
Fourth track, 'It Cuts Both Ways' is melodic and moody, with more of those compelling, driving drums. 'I finally surrender, sometimes we forget what we need to remember'. Tischler sounds forlorn and a little lost. It's a perfectly constructed tune of pace and balance.
'In Time All Want Will Cease' opens like a lullaby with metronomic drumming. You can tell the band have been given space, there's room for each and they rise and fall, led by Tischler's soothing lilt before crashing down into a barely contained jam.
'Hand upon the Throttle' follows with energy and drive before the angry 'I Can't Breathe' with it's edgy sliding guitar. There's a strut to the vocal before the track ends in an ominous squall of sound.
The album is heavy with frustration and uncertainty but offers excruciating brief glimpses of hope.
Tischler said:"I do think there's a real vision of loss and fear driving this record, but that's offset by another vision of the power of love, and the strength it can provide when it feels like you're living just a few miles from the end of the world."
This hope is glimpsed in 'I Figured It Out'. It's upbeat, keenly paced, a sense of being on the move again. It is sweetly sung - never has a voice been used so obviously as an instrument and it dictates the mood. It's a tight tune. The rebuild hinted in the title is beginning.
'The World Is Bigger Than My Two Hands' is offered up to the drums and is exquisitely chaotic. The frontman sings over meaty guitar and a superb defining drumbeat. The result is exhilarating
The album ends with the slinky, moody 'Epilogue'. Chewy and atmospheric, there's tantalising hope for the future. It's a great closer, a perfect end that 'starts with a kiss'. The redemptive power of love offers a final solution.
'Destroy. Rebuild' is a dense album, reflective and thoughtful. Tischler said, "it's about relationships, it's about the country, it's about the band." It's all of those things, vast in it's scope.
Truly an album of questions, refreshingly non-didactic, in 'Destroy. Rebuild' we are invited to join Tischler in his attempt at making sense of a complicated world, a world he makes no claim to understanding.
It's these doubts that make the record so appealing. It's a ragged and world weary musical journey from despair to hope. It's human and flawed, lyrically and musically explorative. The result? Perfect imperfection.
Fantastic interview with The Jet Age here
'Destroy. Rebuild' can be pre-ordered here
The album will be launched at The Wedding Present's At the Edge of the Sea Festival, taking place August 29 and 30th in Brighton, England.