Jupiter One - Sunshower
Record Label: Rykodisc
Release Date: September 15, 2009
If the name sounds familiar, thank Electronic Arts. After a successful launch of the self-titled release in 2008, Jupiter One spent the rest of the year in the studio. The result was Sunshower: an eleven track sophomore effort on Rykodisc. So soon? If you want to get technical, Jupiter One was actually released in 2005; the reissue finally got the band the press it deserved.
Sunshower follows an exclusive pattern, undeterred and emotional without any regard for the listener's feelings; I suppose that's the beauty of indie-rock. "Volcano" and "Lights Go Out" really capture the unique style that Jupiter One exhibits—- imagine if The Cars had a strings section-- and manage to keep the clichés to a minimum. "Volcano" is a great opener about bad impressions and angry fathers, about as close as it gets to a story for this record. The lack of myth within Sunshower may be accredited to the late-'70s feel that carry the backing vocals and add just enough keys. Every two or three tracks shift from the aforementioned classic rock style to an indie-folk rhythm with light drums and abrupt endings, specifically on "Made in a Day" and the album's first single, "Flaming Arrow." The change of pace is deceivingly refreshing, and this different style allows for a little bit of adventure ("Flaming Arrow" is all about revenge through arson). "Anna" reinforces the template, but stands alone as a testament to the mindless hook that keeps any guitar-driven harmony stuck in your head. "Come On" breaks the trend and reflects more of the habit that Jupiter One fell into: palm-mutes and melody.
The final two tracks, "Strange Teacher" and "People in the Mountain, People of the Ocean" attempt to provide some epilogue, but left me wanting. Without any closure, Sunshower is confusing and unfinished; I wish that the album was more consistent, not in its pattern, but in its content. The album is split evenly with about twenty minutes of pop melodies and twenty minutes of abstract delirium. Was the objective nonconformity? Perhaps. I wouldn't want to push a certain style on any musician, but I found myself longing for the uniformity of Jupiter One. Here, there's better songwriting and production, but definitely not a steady album. Where the likeness of the '70s falls short, the music just isn't enough to pick up the slack. Give Sunshower a listen; it isn't long, and you'll quickly pick out your five favorite tunes.