JPNSGRLS - Circulation
Record Label: Light Organ Records
Release Date: July 15, 2014
It is an extremely rare feat for a contemporary North American rock band to pack an album from start to finish with little if any filler. And yet that's exactly what happens on Vancouver band JPNSGRLS debut effort Circulation. The first eight songs are arguably some of the strongest rock songs of 2014 and signal the arrival of one of North America's most charismatic new acts. Breathing new life into the term 'all killer, no filler,' the album is a relentless pageant of garage inspired pop hooks, alcohol-addled yelping, and a dizzying array of sweat, caffeine and ample amounts of attitude. Channeling the likes of Frightened Rabbit, Hot Hot Heat and Dinosaur Jr., the album is a hulking beast of a record and the very definition of first-rate rock.
The disc opens with “Smalls” a scruffy and ragged rocker that hits at the very essence of JPNSGRLS. Fueled by surging guitars, vocalist Charlie Kerr’s urgent delivery and an air-tight rhythm section, everything about “Smalls” is irresistible. Ditto for lead single “Tiger,” a falsetto-laden ear worm that is as captivating as it is accessible. The quartet ups the sonic ante on the explosive and anthemic “Brandon,” which features an intoxicating final minute and is the first of many moments in which JPNSGRLS proves that they are a force to be reckoned beyond their cozy Canadian confines.
Circulation pushes forward with the title track, a magnetic and dynamic tour-de-force that seems to place a huge emphasis on both message and vibe. Once again, the song yields to a hypnotic final minute and serves as a playbook for any struggling garage act out there. If you're going to anchor your album on a title track, it damn well better be this strong. True to their garage-pop roots, “Mushrooms” is a tightly packed fireball of clang and clatter with a lightning quick pace and more of Kerr’s impassioned warbling. Circulation’s masterful first set concludes with one of the album’s strongest: the lyrically sharp “From the East.”
The second act of Circulation opens with the slow-building “Tennis Shoes,” which escalates gradually and once again gives way to an absolutely smoldering final sixty seconds. If JPNSGRLS has a bread and butter it's that they know exactly how to open and close a song. Sure they can write winning choruses, verses sand bridges, but when it comes to opening and closing, there's few if any better. While all of the album has thus far been absolutely first-rate, no one song deserves that title more than “Southern Comforting." In just three short minutes the band has woven together an expertly crafted firecracker that gives new meaning to the phrase ear candy. Though there are many songs on Circulation that demand repeat listens, not one deserves it more than “Southern Comforting.”
While Circulation's first eight have been nothing short of sensational, the quartet makes their first mistake with the absolutely woeful “Laughing Gas,” a self-indulgent, forced and egregious mistake that marks the album’s only hiccup. If JPNSGRLS has a reason to be forgiven it’s that their songs are brief and “Laughing Gas” is all of three minutes. Not ones to be mired in a slump, they get back in stride on “Brace Yourself” but once again the impact is not nearly as magnanimous as on the album’s opening octet. One has to wonder that if it had been placed in favor of “Laughing Gas,” it might have had a stronger punch. Circulation’s penultimate offering is “David and Goliath,” a brawny bar-room rocker bursting with attitude that continues to elucidate Kerr’s unyielding self-awareness and self-deprecation. This near-perfect album is bookended with “Oh No Echoes,” a towering totem with falsetto vocals, snappy drums and the very same charisma that has made almost all of Circulation such a compelling listen.
From start to finish, Circulation is everything one can want in a record. Kerr is locked-in, sincere and deeply absorbed in his songs; his lyrics are confessional, honest and provocative; and most importantly, the songs are engaging, anthemic and wholly riveting. With the exception of throwaway “Laughing Gas,” Circulation has few if any flaws. Brisk, brilliant and bombastic, Circulation is easily one of the best rock albums of 2014.
When i saw the band name, it made me think of Japandroids (i guess just because of the "japan" part) so i was pretty surprised to see this band is also from Vancouver. Will have to check this out further.