Jaill, a Gen Y everyband with retro garage-surf tendencies, take pride in their working class status as musicians, putting an independent ethos back in indie as they also grapple with the heightened expectations of releasing an album on middleweight champion label Sub Pop. Their third lp Traps is a comfortable listen. It achieves a refreshing mix of dirty and sunny, like a champagne hangover on the beach in the early afternoon.
Traps, upbeat from the outset and engineered for a feel-good listen, blends ’60s Brit garage, ’80s jangle pop and California surf-punk, with some San Francisco psych and early ’90s alt-country tossed into the mix for good measure. Frontman Vincent Kircher’s lyrics are cathartic without being depressive, thanks to a slightly tilted sense of humour. “Everyone’s a Bitch” discusses how “she called me vanilla sex life/ Didn’t know she wanted rock n’ roll.” The band promptly follows this line with a vintage rock and/or roll guitar solo to close out the song, that lead guitar being the sharpest feature of the album, making deadly use of delay.
Few songs on Traps break the idiosyncratic template the band has etched, yet there are a handful that rise above the standard. “Madness” hits the record midstream as an acoustic palette cleanser, and is followed directly by the best cut on the album, “Million Times.” This song begins as a rough-edged alt-country ballad, but conveys a sense of listless wandering, like walking drunk alone in the rain when you know the woman you love is with another man. The lyrics quickly trail off and the song turns to steady acoustic strums that continue on until an apparent dissolve into a few despondent keyboard chords. Suddenly a beat pulses through and re-ignites the track, and for the next minute and 23 seconds the band throbs with the energy of TV on the Radio. The vocals revive the melodic thread that was absentmindedly abandoned, now filled out by dense atmospherics, and the delicacy of the sadness that was introduced becomes stark and visceral.
Jaill are like the weird younger cousin of the Beach Boys, even though Kircher sounds more like Mick Jagger than Brian Wilson. For such an unassuming band, they really pop. Traps, in title at least, could be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the album is filled with hooks to catch the listener’s interest and pull him or her in repeatedly. It is quirky and unusual enough that, given the right amount of time and perhaps another bottle of champagne, you just might fall in love with it.
Best Coast – Crazy For You
The Beach Boys – Today!
Sloan – Twice Removed
Stream: Jaill – “Everyone’s a Bitch”