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Jack Of None – Who’s Listening To Van Gogh’s Ear? – Album Review

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Most bands lock into a sound, only ever switching gears between albums, but there are some adventurous enough to do that on the album. On Who’s Listening To Van Gogh’s Ear? the new LP from sibling outfit Jack Of None, the band doesn’t just try these sounds but mixes and matches them. Taking notes from PJ Harvey, Metallica, a bit of Smashing Pumpkins and others the band creates a dark and heavy album that feels drone heavy, although never crosses into the screeched or roared vocals of the other metal genres.

The album opens on the mysterious, spoken-word groove of “Hotel Carcass” which supplements pop hooks for a myriad of sonic experimentation. “Pater, Ignosce Mihi” instantly cranks up the metal factor on the album with some vocal-sampling to keep things interesting. Similar to the opening track, the song could stand a little more variety but is nonetheless a sonically unique song.

There’s a haunting mood that opens “Mrs Stitcher” before it switches back to metal to tell the terrifying tale of the titular woman. The track mixes its vocal sections together to great effect, and adds more variety to the album, although the eerie keyboard sections that bookend the track are definitely the most standout parts of the track. “On The Streets” grinds into the most industrial sounding track on the album with some almost supernatural vocal lines thrown in as well. The guitar work on this track is impressive and keeps it fresh throughout, in addition to the cool bridges and spoken-word sections.

The sombre, spoken word mystery continues on “Confessions Of A Chop Chop Lady” in which Maxine Syjuco recounts the story of a battered woman’s revenge story. The sombre sections of the song are broken up excitedly by the fast metal sections that seem to work more powerfully between the bands already dark sounds. The siblings add their most spine-tingling piano on “(But) Noise” that elevates the dark mood, along with the aforementioned heavy guitars driving the track more this time.

Fire Song” tells the story of a young pyro’s history of setting her life on fire, set to a handful of killer guitar licks. There’s an immediately noticeable PJ Harvey influence to “There Was A Crooked Man” in both the vocals and the overall sound of the song that make it a unique turn in a fairly consistent album sound-wise. The song provides a stellar groove and the bass-driven bridge is the most engaging part of the track.

The Withering” takes a powerful bass-line and accents it with its guitars, also adding in some scat-like vocals. The album goes back down the dark toned roads on “Unravel Me” where an almost Metallica sounding guitar provides the moody background for Maxine’s vocals.

Nocturnes In Dorian” is the most electronics-heavy track on the album and turns into a surprisingly three-part instrumental that cuts through some of the repetition. “Poem For The Invisible” closes Who’s Listening To Van Gogh’s Ear spookily on another dark track with eerie piano. The track seems to let electronics overtake the melody to suggest that they’re the spirits entering the song.

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