Much of it has to do, really, with Vincent Kircher, whose voice rises, falls and follows along to the music in about the same way as James Mercer’s. Their cadence, then, is aligned. And because we’re talking about lead vocals here, it’s tough listening to a band like Jaill without making the comparison.
Beyond that, though, I don’t think it necessary to mention Jaill and The Shins in the same breath. Why? Because Jaill is way better than The Shins. Their sound is quicker, richer and, well, more interesting.
Jaill is a rock band. A rock, actually, that at times sounds like it’s straight out of the ’60s. I love the beats, the hooks, the surf-rock guitar riffs, the “ooh ooh wah ooh” backup support and how their sound harbors — slightly! — in the lo-fi.
That’s How We Burn is truly a great album about many things. Among them: Women, drugs and what to do when the cops are in hot pursuit.
We’ll start on that latter point, which, I think, is the basis for the album’s lead track, “The Stroller.” In it, Kircher wonders where the beggars are when he needs to look good, and says he’d never put his life in the hands of a stranger.
Then, he questions what to do when in pursuit by the fuzz. Remain calm? Clamp up? Or, you know, forget to breathe?
When you panic, do you count to ten? When you’re surrounded, do you hold your breath?
What I like most about “The Stroller,” though, is I find it susceptible to multiple interpretations. The “stranger” Kircher identifies could be a woman he hardly knows who is looking to take their relationship to the next level already. Then, does Kircher panic, or do something else?
The same goes for other situations. The “stranger” stands in for a person, issue and so on, and then it’s like: Well, what do I do?
I spent a lot of time on “Summer Mess,” both because its quick 1:45 run time makes it easy to do so and because it’s frustratingly cryptic.
The slowest, least complex tune on That’s How We Burn, “Summer Mess” begins with insults, which may also be read as endearing examples of why two people enjoy each others’ company. Then, there are references to drugs and hurtful words and letting down — leading me to think it’s a track about the things we say or thought we said or things we’d rather take back when drugs let our guard down.
I mean, “mess” is in the title, so it’s at least in the realm of possibilities.
The 11-track That’s How We Burn is a breezy 32 minutes, and I don’t think there’s a dud in the bunch. Everything’s super catchy, and repeat listens are all but guaranteed if you give these guys a shot.
- Jaill, based in Mikwaukee, is comprised of Vincent Kircher (guitar, jaminator, vocals), Austin Dutmer (drums, flexitone, backups), Andrew Harris (bass) and Ryan Adams (guitar).
- That’s How We Burn can be bought in the following ways at subpop.com: mp3s for $9.90, CD for $12 or LP for $14.
- Jaill will rock Lincoln Hall on September 13 — my birthday! — with Jenny and Johnny and Love as Laughter. Tickets are $20.