Jesus Jones produces uneven bbut likable Doubt
By RICK ROOS
NEWCOMERS JESUS JONES HAVE recently released their second album Doubt, an utterly enjoyable and novel piece of work, but one unfortunately marred by occasional musical and creative lapses.
Jesus Jones is another one of the seemingly endless number of groups from Manchester, England, to have invaded the American alternative music circuit. However, their sound is remarkably different from that of neo-psychedelic Manchester bands like The Stone Roses, The Charlatans UK, and Inspiral Carpets.
Jesus Jones' music contains an infectious mix of sampling, churning guitars and danceable backbeats. The band cites such diverse musical acts as Sonic Youth, Public Enemy, Jimi Hendrix and Prince among their long list of influences. The result is a musical flavor which is truly unique, drawing only remote comparisons to the "grebo" sound of bands like Pop Will Eat Itself and Renegade Soundwave.
The band itself has been around for only a few years. Their first album, Liquidizer, was initially released on the UK's Food Records. Soon afterwards, the band gained such a substantial following that their album was picked up by SBK, a major American label. The band's signing to SBK was significant in that SBK -- a label known for carrying such musical lightweights as Vanilla Ice and Wilson Phillips -- previously had no alternative bands on its roster.
Liquidizer's release in the United States was received with almost universal acclaim, but it garnered only marginal airplay and lukewarm sales. At the same time, the tracks "Move Mountains," "Never Enough" and "Info Freako" were slowly becoming club favorites across
US dance floors. Prompted by this slight crossover into American markets, and their continued success in Great Britain, Jesus Jones rushed into the studios to record their sophomore effort.
The result is an album which took but a week to record: Doubt, an uneven but rather likable piece of music. The disc has 12 of the most diverse cuts ever to be united on one album. The more energetic cuts on the record are clearly the standout ones, featuring the explosive vocals of frontman Jesus H. Jones and the seething guitars of Jones and Jerry De Borg.
The lead cut, "Trust Me," is a perfect illustration. The song is reminiscent of the fast and furious, three-chord epics of The Ramones, igniting the listener from the first moment to the last.
Another standout track is "Are You Satisfied," with Jones posing the questions "Are you satisfied?/ Do you know what you want, will you go with it when you die?" The song moves rather calmly, then launches into an exciting, ferocious chorus, a typical pattern for many of Jesus Jones' songs. Such tracks as the Beatles-esque "Welcome Back Victoria," the marvelous "Real, Real, Real," and the truly silly "International Bright Young Thing" are also surefire treats to any music lover.
The one major drawback of the album is the group's blatant attempt to capitalize on the commercial American market by providing the dreaded "easily accessible" songs on Doubt. The record contains four cuts ranging from forgettable, as in "I'm Burning" and "Blissed," to truly reprehensible, as in "Right Here, Right Now" and "Nothing To Hold Me." The latter song features a slower, more haunting sound with Brian Ferry-like vocals, producing a laughable effect.
Even more annoying is the feeble track "Right Here, Right Now." The song is such an obvious stab at widespread airplay that it's almost funny -- that is, until one has actually listen to it repeatedly. The vocals leave an impression on the listener like that of fingernails on a chalkboard. Gone are the grinding guitars and fresh, funky sounds of other cuts, leaving just a monotonous beatbox. "Right Here, Right Now" belongs in a class with the vast majority
of drivel currently clogging up radio airwaves.
Basically, Doubt is a tremendous effort in the making. If the band had taken the time they had to make their masterpiece, Liquidizer, rather than trying to keep their names in people's minds by rushing out a second album, then they and their fans could have been satisfied. Still, this album is worth picking up. Be sure to buy it on CD in order to avoid the few duds on the disc.