JPNSGRLS – ‘Divorce’ Review

The Canadian band bring little to the table with their second album of meat-and-potatoes tunes

Album number two sees Vancouver’s JPNSGRLS continue their assault on vowels and musical fads. The four-piece – packing angst-ridden, power-chord-heavy rock played at breakneck speed – couldn’t be accused of following fashion. It’s cool to like Justin Bieber; tropical house is creeping like vine over the charts and, at the time of writing, Drake has two of the UK’s Top 10 singles. Is there a tougher sell in music right now than being a rock band consisting of four blokes with guitars?

Charlie Kerr, Chris McClelland, Graham Serl and Colton Lauro don’t care about all that; they just wanna rock. And ‘Divorce’ is sprinkled with enough inventiveness to make it a success. “I’m feigning interest in somebody’s business to combat the guilt” frontman Charlie sings on ‘Circus’, a crushingly honest sentiment set to swooning, doo-wop-inspired backing vocals.

The brittle, staccato bridge of ‘A Comprehensive List Of Things I Love’, set to the lyrics, “She likes me better when I’m stoned / I like me better when I’m stoned”, effectively conveys emotional frustration before the track gallops to its heady, thrash-punk conclusion. And the looping guitar riff of ‘Gap Year’ is the kind of addictive indie-pop confection that makes you pine for old-school Strokes; it then gives way to something that sounds suspiciously like steel drums.

So there are gems to mine here. And no one’s denying the band’s conviction. In an interview with German music blog indieberlin, the musicians explained the meaning behind their Google-friendly moniker. It nods to the female Japanese post-rock band Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs, whose “fervour and energy” informs the kind of music that JPNSGRLS make.

Can you build a music career on conviction and fervour alone, though? ‘Divorce’ is by no means a bad record, but nor is it a particularly memorable or noteworthy one. On ‘Trojan Horse’, Kerr sings, “I wanna drop out of school and rap / I see a real future in that”. He’s not wrong – and that’s a problem for a band like JPNSGRLS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVKfOHCD4lI

Details

Record label: Light Organ Records
Release date: 22 Jul, 2016