Saturday, 14 September 2013

Album review: THE BAPTIST GENERALS - Jackleg Devotional To The Heart

Highlights: Machine En Prolepsis, Dog That Bit You, Broken Glass, My O My

The Baptist Generals are a Sub Pop band. Let me explain here. These days being signed to Sub Pop does not automatically mean that you are a Sub Pop band. In many cases it just means you have a record deal. The Baptist Generals, however, do sound like they belong to the legendary label. In fact, I would very much appreciate seeing a song like “Dog That Bit You” on a maybe-some-day-to-be-released Sub Pop 400 compilation.

Not really experimental and yet not really pop either. There are elements of both here, but I would just like to stress that essentially this music is rather lovely and accessible (the three minute epic “Broken Glass” is fucking gorgeous). If this is pop, it’s pop the way people like Frank Black understand it. Chord progressions slightly challenging, vocals not too presentable. While the actual melodies are mostly strong, Jackleg Devotional To The Heart is heavily packed with numerous interesting details – like the unnerving rhythm of “3 Bromides” or the beautiful strings of “My O My”. It might take some time to take in all the little twists and turns of this extremely intricate and inventive record, but now that I’ve given it a few good listens – the whole thing sounds both consistent and elaborate. From the Feelies-like opening instrumental to the grand orchestrated finale.

Interestingly, the band’s previous album was released ten ago – which makes Jackleg Devotional To The Heart something of a comeback. The album certainly seems like they had a lot to say, which is always important for a comeback. A bit grungy, a bit folky, a bit whatever – and mostly Sub Pop. Subversive and quite sweet, too.


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