New-wave renaissance in full effect
The previously mysterious and somewhat newly unveiled Jade Hairpins, comprised of Fucked Up’s drummer Jonah Falco and songwriter/guitarist Mike Haliechuk, have announced their debut full-length LP – Harmony Avenue. Having only released a two-song EP, they are a relatively adolescent band. Yet, they have garnered some clout and esteem from their original project on Fucked Up, so it seems this side project may be a more lucid, liberated entrance into what they have to offer or maybe this is just them playing around for kicks. Let the analysis commence.
So far, they’ve already released three songs off the 10-track album. The single, “(Don’t Break My) Devotion,” makes deft use out of that inimitable new-wave drum kit and also features the classic unremitting and grating power chords. It screams new-wave through a thousand proverbial megaphones. It’s got the quirky lyrics speaking on weird, absurdist themes. It’s got the catchy hook, breathy singing, cheeky equivoques and cheesy one-liners. It’s got movement and it’s a little funky.
Mostly, it follows that quirky, new-wave feel pretty religiously throughout. “Yesterdang” features a really catchy and kind of touching melody that doesn’t sound unlike The Talking Heads, or in track five, “Post No Bill” it flaunts arpeggiated analog synth and smart, clipped guitar riffs as the vocalist’s faraway yell-singing flows on. Frontman Falco describes the album as “straddling the post-post-punk of something like New Order, Scritti Politti and Orange Juice…” He ain’t far off.
Yet, the album is still a little… recherché. For some reason “Mary Magazine” sounds like a discarded Beatles song blared out of a baseball stadium, and “Truth Like a Mirage” sounds like wind-chime background music to a 2-bit video game as if you’re doing quite positively on a trying level.
And, all the tracks are uber-nostalgic. It doesn’t seem as if they’ve riskily circumvented copyright infringements or just drew from many ’80s-era musical tropes without actually interpolating like the Strokes’ in their newest, but it definitely sounds derivative. The final track, “Motherman,” epitomizes this and it’s a takeaway kind of song – all grand and saying goodbye, steadily rising and last-minute incorporating all those sentimental new-wave tricks they may have left out in the preceding tracks.
All in all, to codify this puppy, it’s like New Romantic meets New Wave meets Funk. Although the instrumentation is sharp and refreshingly novel, it becomes a little cacophonic in some pockets. It’s a listen less so for the vocals as most of the time it’s unintelligible, minus the odd couple of decipherable words that surface out of the rough. However, each song makes for a really gratifying, new-retro listen and has the potential to make its way into your daily mix to frolic through the digitized dandelions down Harmony Ave.