Jennylee - 'Right On!'
Warpaint bassist channels her main band's somnolent atmospheres on solo debut
Don’t be deceived by that exclamation mark on the end of the title: Jenny Lee Lindberg’s ‘right on!’ has many qualities to recommend it, but a great sense of urgency isn’t among them. Instead, in keeping with the two albums she’s recorded with Warpaint, Lindberg’s first solo LP moves in mysterious, often circuitous ways, emphasising mood over melody and aesthetic over dynamic. Which is a polite way of saying that it’s something of a grower, whose charms are revealed like arcane secrets only to those with patience, persistence and a lack of proximity to heavy machinery.
Take opener ‘blind’, where Lindberg’s breathy vocal is accompanied by little more than a bass guitar plodding eerily away on the periphery, as though swaying to the rhythm of a sacramental censer filled with narcotics. Like much of ‘right on!’ it only ever seems to be building towards anticlimax (and unhurriedly, at that) yet it remains a tantalisingly evocative and esoteric piece. Elsewhere, Lindberg broadens her scope to include elements of austere 80s goth and darkwave – witness the chilly early-Cure guitar work on ‘never’, or the skittering, skeletal disco of ‘offerings’, lifting slyly from both Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way’ and The Beatles’ ‘Something’ – but many of the album’s strengths and weaknesses are shared by Warpaint themselves.
Still, the very least you can say of ‘right on!’ is that it has a very particular vibe. After a certain point, the languid, lucid-dream R&B of ‘he fresh’ (“He’s so fresh, he’s so fresh, he’s so fresh,”) begins to sound less like a refrain and more like an incantation, while the agitated post-punk of ‘riot’ and ‘white devil’ lend a more clamorous, diabolical air, the latter culminating in Lindberg and her friend Kris Byerly screaming the title with increasing rage and malevolence. Some more of that aggression and animation wouldn’t have gone amiss here, but Lindberg and her bandmates have always dealt in a currency of distant, unknowable cool – why throw open the doors at this point?
Director: Jenny Lee Lindberg, Norm Block
Record label: Rough Trade
Release date: 11 Dec, 2015