Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MP3 Review: Jamaican Queens "Downers" (Freakish Pleasures)

[Available as Download or Vinyl //]

The music of Jamaican Queens can perhaps be best described as a mix of electro-pop-funk with a bit of soul.   At the very heart of it I feel listening to it the same way that I did when I first listened to "Mellow Gold" because I felt like Beck was some kind of alien or from the future with the way that he was making his music and "Downers" also has that futuristic-pop feel to it that I enjoy simply because as much as it might border on that pop idea (Such as songs on the radio) it never goes full out there because there always seems to be something a little bit weird to pull it back down to earth (or in this case have me believing this is not from this planet)

A combination of Work Drugs, Observer Drift and Gnarls Barkley come out in these songs musically, but as you get further into it you can hear the Franz Ferdinand guitars mixed with "That Thing You Do!" vocals on "Don't Call Me Up".   A lot of it is beats, synth coming through in skips and whooshes and then just the overall sound of pop mixed with soul underneath it, which really helps to create a sound that I just can't compare with any other single artist directly but can hear pieces of both in here and within other artists.

Lyrically, I enjoy the fact that some of these songs seemed very planned out in their delivery and at other times the lyrics can flow as if they were recorded in one take and the singer was just asked to go in there and sing about whatever came to his mind at that moment.    This is not a bad thing though- as if this is true (and I don't believe it is) then he definitely has some talent in freestyling- and it does not make any of the songs sound better or worse; it's just an observation.   The part about liking the way your mouth takes and wanting to kiss in public feels improvised, but again, that might just be me.

Being that the album is titled "Downers" also has this sort of mental illness quality to the overall theme of it-- one where you take pills to feel better and subjects like depression and thoughts of suicide are touched upon.    But this isn't done in a way that makes me feel like, "Oh, here's another album about mental illness", but rather it just feels more natural as the lyrics are just casually placed within the songs so that you could pull them out when you really want to dissect it but it's not all up and in your face like some artists who seem like they want to be the next theme song for mental health awareness.

Overall this is just one of those feel good albums (despite the title and what I wrote in that last paragraph there) and rightfully so it is available on vinyl because it feels like something you'd definitely spin in your record collection more than play in any other way.   I actually remember the album before this was released on cassette- "Wormfood"- and I don't have the cassette of it but I am thinking now about just buying them both on vinyl because there's even a special combo deal for that on their Bandcamp page.    But yes, this is one of my favorite albums not just of 2015 so far but it should be  for many years to come.

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