The aesthete in me is put off by the garish colors of the cover’s design collage. The grammarian in me has trouble with JigGsaw’s misspelling and randomly placed capital letter. Yet, the rocker in me can’t help but be drawn in by the band’s meaty guitar hooks and powerful alt-rock melodies. JigGsaw’s debut album, Zero Generation, is a crunchy mix of giant rock riffs and smart-assed lyrics that may be veering toward the goof-rock side of the spectrum, but still remain highly entertaining.
The album starts out on a high note with “Mars,” a throwback to a time when “modern rock” was still a relatively fresh idea, and JigGsaw keep it that way. Though by no means unique, the song utilizes the best elements of indie rock bands such as Archers of Loaf or Sunny Day Real Estate, only with more Marshall stack strength behind it. Yet, “Mona Lisa’s Mirror” is quirkier, both in vocal delivery by Mark JigGsaw (who sounds like a snottier Rivers Cuomo) and in the odd guitar effects. Unfortunately, the song that comes next, “Holly Brown,” is nothing more than annoying, poorly delivered vocals hampering an otherwise interesting melody.
The band does best when tackling anthem-sized rockers, like “A Fair Warning to An Under Age Lover,” which finds Mark singing, “I didn’t know you had a thing called innocence.” “Pretty Pride,” which follows, is equally enormous in its rock-ocity, again harkening back to Weezer in its lyrics of break-ups and celebratory (or commiserative) drinking. As the album goes on, however, the music remains gigantic and powerful, while Mark JigGsaw’s vocals teeter and totter between endearingly quirky and too snotty for their own good.
Despite some setbacks, pertaining both to the music and the external factors, Zero Generation has enough hooks and awesome rock `n’ roll moments for repeated satisfactory listens. This is, however, just a debut, and the band has plenty of opportunity for growth. But to avoid any further comparison to Weezer, it may be wise to stop singing about beer. Just a suggestion.
Weezer – Maladroit
Nerf Herder – Nerf Herder
Nada Surf – The Proximity Effect
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.