At first listen, there isn’t much (sonically) that separates JPNSGRLS’ Divorce from their 2014 full-length debut, Circulation. The Vancouver-based garage rock band is still trafficking effective bursts of chunky, distortion-laden riffs over thundering rhythm sections. Charlie Kerr’s lyrics still alternate between hyper-serious (see his take on misogyny on “Bully For You”) and sarcastic, though he works in a falsetto this time around (“A Girl From A Different Dimension”).
Notably, this is the last record with founding member Oliver Mann, who has since been replaced by Colton Lauro on lead guitar. It’s interesting because the guitar-playing on this record seemed to integrate more of a modern alternative rock sound than a straight-up garage rock sound, which fleshes out their songwriting a little more. I think the guitar tones on “Trojan Horse” are a really good example of some of the maturity that has developed in their sound since Circulation. With a new guitarist on board, I’m interested in seeing if there will be any other shifts in their sound.
For the most part, however, Divorce doesn’t stray from a formula that works for JPSNGRLS. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: when it works, it really works (like on album opener “Oh My God”). It’s just that Divorce sort of leaves you wanting more than what you’ve gotten. One of the main calling cards of JPNSGRLS’ success is found in their explosive live show, and I think Divorce could have done a better job of reflecting that strength of the band. There are really good moments on Divorce, like Kerr’s clever wordplay and almost Alex Turner-esque vocals, or the aural assault of “Oh My God”, I just wish that the record was more consistently dynamic.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Light Organ Records
Must-Listen Tracks: “Oh My God”, “Trojan Horse”
Buy Divorce on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/divorce/id1115821173