Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Birthdays, London, February 26
Yet, under the squeal and squall, there are sweet, seditious chant-rock melodies bubbling and, after twenty minutes of evil rave, they erupt. The songs begin to take on the retromodern shapes of 50s/60s beat era and a wall of sound – 'Come Save Me' is a fantastic clash of on-trend antique rock'n'roll, motoric Dalston drone and strobe-strafed electro, sounding like The Ronettes guesting at a Justice gig. At times they imagine a trip-hop Richard Hawley, or Jake Bugg drenched in liquid MDMA.
Still, each song builds to a bristling rave crescendo akin to The Chemical Brothers corroding from the inside out or, in the case of their most Madchester single 'The Throw', a fucked up version of 'Do They Know It's Christmas'. There's no sense of cynical splicing of laptop and Rickenbacker, no zeitgeist-friendly mutations – everything the do is so fundamentally fused you can't see the join.
True, Jagwar's bassist Jono Ma has a tendency to down tools and grab the maracas for a spot of Bez-bouncing when things get particularly acid-rave, but they're much more than the Happy Slap Mondays they've been tagged. They're a whole new rave/rock thing. A dazzling update of the pre-Beatles rock'n'roll trend fed through two decades of demonic dance decadence. The gauntlet is down.
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