ets to Brazil’s first album was a gift. Jets to Brazil’s second album was an aberration. Jets to Brazil’s third album is an abomination. As stated above, the second album was an aberration. Or so we thought. At first, it seemed like a great album, full of a more mature and inward looking band that had sacrificed a bit of the rock for something better. Upon repeated listens that something better became dull familiarity and nothing more. It was, in the simplest of terms, AM Rock.
The hope for a return to something resembling heaviness, rather than bland texture was buoyed by recent live shows in which they actually did something that had been apparently left off of the sophomore album: rock. Unfortunately, those days are long since gone. Blake Schwarzenbach has completely gone away from his punk past, which is ostensibly a good thing. There is nothing more embarrassing than a middle aged group of men playing three chords and espousing a nihilist philosophy to a bunch of crusty middle aged men who are attempting to forget the worries of their high paying job and slumming it up in the hopes of reliving a past that is long gone.
What Schwarzenbach has come to be, however, is nothing better than middle aged punk rockers. There is certainly a fine line between maturity and vitality and it seems that the group has long since passed it.
Perhaps this is best exemplified on the opening to the first track on the album and the beginning of “Perfecting Loneliness”. These songs opening chords sound almost exactly like previous songs that the group has recorded. Their motifs are repeated throughout the song, but the accompanying sounds and lyrics are quite different. Instead of crunching guitars on “Perfecting Loneliness” a keyboard enters into the mix, playing a mirror image staccato guitar line. Both songs also feature limpid guitar solos that reveal that the band is slightly better than Weezer in writing them, but not by much.
The final nail in the coffin for this album is the last song on the album, which rolls merrily along with a “haunting” and “brooding” emotional quality to it. This emotional quality, however, has to stretch out over eight minutes and haunting soon becomes tiring soon becomes lazy.
The key, of course, to Jets to Brazil, at this point, is Schwarzenbach’s lyrics. He is in rare form here and, although he shows no audible signs of innovation or progression, the lyrics are the highlight to the album. Unfortunately, this is mostly because the music is so entirely lacking. As times goes on, it has become clear that Schwarzenbach has become a greater writer than he ever was in Jawbreaker. The fusion of a driving and intricate backing music on Orange Rhyming Dictionary made that album a success.
This album, with music that is both static and intricate (in a “look at these strings we’ve got here!” kind of way) fails to delivers the one two punch of lyric and music. Instead we’re left with one- and that should never be good enough to warrant a purchase.