Diving head-first into the chaos
A band like Fruit Juice is hard to describe. With the chaos that comes from their fusion of psychedelic, pop, retro-glam and electronic, the group dives headfirst into the avant-garde, making themselves indiscernible in the best way possible. Members of this Seattle-based band include Jake McCaffray on lead vocals and guitars, Quillian Fennessey on vocals and keys, James Dyer on drums and vocals, Gabriel Stranahan on bass and vocals and Schwa Chetust on guitars and vocals. Their newest album, Mirke Vs The Dreamy LLC, perfectly captures the group’s particular wacky voice, making for a strong sophomore release.
The opening track, “Fig. 6: The Pretties,” acts almost as an overture for the album, previewing many of the instrumental and structural aspects featured throughout. A short introduction highlights the varying timbres present in Fruit Juice’s core sound, with light guitar plucks being interrupted by deep and heavy synth lines. Like most other tracks on the album, there’s no clear formal structure, and it focuses instead on separate tonal explorations. Standard verses are cut short, filled instead with instrumental breaks loaded with an array of synth and electric sounds, only to return to a new verse in an entirely new key with an entirely new scoring. These structural choices enhance the album’s atmosphere and leave the listener on the edge of their seat, always wondering what could happen next.
Another highlight of the album is McCaffray’s vocals. Like Kevin Barnes and Jack Stauber, McCaffray isn’t afraid to explore untraditional sounds. Tracks like “Brochure” and “Sex Isn’t Important” showcase his lingering falsetto and quirky vocal quality. Along with his own voice, the backing vocals delivered by the other band members are consistently layered throughout the album, strengthening his vocals, and at times creating a haunting atmosphere. Additionally, tracks like “Dreamy LLC.” and “Black Car” utilize samples of random voices talking. These samples are scattered many of the tracks and pan from side to side as if the listener is surrounded by different characters. While this can be a bit distracting in some moments, it plays perfectly into the odd and unique sound the group strives for.
One of the most impressive aspects of the album is its scoring choices. For one, the wide array of instruments and sound samples add variety and weave together into an aural bombastic soundscape. Still, every sound is picked and used with clear intention. Tracks like “I Don’t Know” and “Mirke Looks In” exemplify this. The aural space is given great care, with sections of both complete silence and total cacophony, making it hard to discern one line from the next. Heavy instrumentals contrast with choral acapella sections, allowing each track to develop while providing some breathing space amidst the chaos.
While each track on the album brings something new to the table, some standouts are “If You Wake Up In Our House” and “We Tried.” The first is one of the more stripped-back songs on the album, mixing experimentation with a warm, ageless quality. The latter is much more vocal-centric and serious, with lyrics such as “Won’t mention that we just let our good friend die,” spelled out syllable-by-syllable in an emotive and powerful performance.
While the avant-garde sounds on Mirke vs The Dreamy LLC might not be to everyone’s taste, Fruit Juice excels in the niche they’ve made for themselves. With this being only their second full-length release, this is a band to keep an eye on. Who knows where their experimentations take them next?