An acoustic bar cuts the silence as a rowdy ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ heralds in the full band and an anthemic pop punk belter: the start of something new for punks of the folk persuasion; Jake & The Jellyfish – Long In Winters. Released 26 January 2018 with a gloriously green vinyl available on Invisible Llama Music, this album sees an evolution of sound from this newly re-outfitted 5 piece (sometimes 6), as 2 new members, Derek and Omar, grace the line up. The album revels in raucous, melodic sing-alongs which you can’t help but join in with, even though you don’t know the words yet. But trust me, you will.
Straying away from the folkier elements of previous records, Dead Weight (2015) and Credit Cards and Overdrafts (2013), this new offering explores the makings of a good melodic punk record, rather than revelling in klezmer tinged folk. Make no mistake, the trademark Jellies’ violin and accordion (expertly played by Joe Dobraszczyk of Will Tun and The Wasters fame and new member Derek) are still present, but more as an accent to the punchy, anthems on offer – only making themselves known by track 3.
Tangentially, this growth of sound comes with a newer, more personal focus – songs such as Reading List, The Shakes and the eponymous Long in Winters deal with loss, mental health, and anxiety. Reading List is a particular fave, the unrelenting pounding of bright chords complimented with vocalist Jake’s dulcet but defiant vocals drives you ever-forward to the hymn-esque chant ‘Does this come natural, or does it come with time?’. And this is really where the record catches me – expertly played, Jake & The Jellyfish bring no half measures when it comes to writing catchy choruses that beg you to try your hand at harmonising with them.
…a deliciously weighty bass intro crafting the lead in for a formidably heavier track, which sets aside the twee folk touches.
Graveyard follows, a touch of violin announcing the arrival of that trademark Jelly mix of tenacious tempo-driven tune, flavoured with a tantalising folk tinge. Once again we are assured that Jake & The Jellyfish are master chorus crafters as more ‘whoas’ continue to happily pervade the part of your brain that gets phrases stuck in your head. The Shakes follows suit with a deliciously weighty bass intro crafting the lead in for a formidably heavier track, which sets aside the twee folk touches. This track combined with the greatly named Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peas uncovers the heavier, raucous writing the band offers, present on previous releases but often diverted by the folk crafting. On first listen I felt wishful for more of the quick-fingered violin riffs that were synonymous with previous Jake & The Jellyfish belters, but on successive listens I appreciate the mastery of the lighter folk touch as it allows the true, savvy songwriting skill to breathe. In particular I enjoy the mastery of curating heavier, anthemic tunes and juxtaposing them with traditionally poppier acoustic-driven songs, such as Comics and Social Smoker.
Once No One Remembers Song Titles Anyway chimes in we are masterfully steered back to a tune reminiscent of the archetypal Jellies song; wonderfully interwoven acoustic folk emboldened with catchy one phrase chants and a driving full band. This song builds with almost cinematic violin touches and a pounding swell of choral ‘whoas’, teasing a feeling of being on the verge of something great, or the soundtrack to a great adventure. It is beautifully rendered and quite easily one of the highlights of this record, wonderfully set up by the divergence of the songs previous. Cleverly left as the penultimate track it wonderfully contrasts with the last acoustic song, Long in Winters. It wouldn’t be a Jellies record without the requisite acoustic track. Much like a Zelda boss, it’s somewhat expected in formula, but enjoyable and exhilarating whilst holding their own unique touch – and never tiresome. Make no mistake, Long In Winters is one of my (many) favourite tracks for its heartfelt simplicity and as a fan of their live set I will never tire of the honest, unplugged song that closes in the crowd.
I highly recommend getting out to see Jake & The Jellyfish play this new record as I guarantee you a rowdy, sing along of a show. Jake Jellyfish will be embarking on a solo European tour in March and hopefully more full band dates will be announced closer to home in the summer. You can pick up a copy of the beautiful vinyl (with artwork designed by Joel Millerchip) here.
Favourite Tracks: ‘No One Remembers Song Titles Anyway’ and ‘Social Smoker’ Earworm Songs: ‘Reading List’ and ‘Social Smoker’ FFO: Chewing on Tinfoil, Stöj Snak, The Menzingers
Featured image by Hannah Paloma Piper
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