Review by Sarah Williams.
I was very excited to hear that Jake & The Jellyfish were releasing a new album. Their last full-length, Dead Weight, was a splendid slice of upbeat folk punk; each song they deliver is foot-tapping, head-nodding, sing-along perfection. They’re also a band that guarantee a raucous live show, which they successfully replicate in the energy of their recorded material.
Their new record Long In Winters is due out on January 26th, with a shiny green vinyl version coming from Invisible Llama Music. At the base of all the songs is a solid unplugged guy-and-guitar ethos that is given a more expansive sound by the full band and the crystal-clear big-room production. Jake & The Jellyfish clearly take influence from traditional folk and riotous bands like the Levellers, but they modernise the sound with poppier ‘whoa-oh’ harmonies and a consistently fast, stomping tempo. The combination of electric guitar, fiddle, plaintive singing and relatable lyrics is irresistable.
The album kicks into action with bright electro-acoustic strumming on the opener Spokesdog. From the first bars we are introduced to Jake McAllister’s witty way with words and gritty, infectious vocal style. The song is uplifting with a sense of urgency behind it: performed solo-acoustic it could be a tearjerker, but instead it floods your stereo with emotive force, not dissimilar to the rousing feel Ducking Punches achieve with a full-band.
Second track, Reading List is more of a singalong opus, with an appealing little fiddle line woven into the mix. The words, “I need background noise so I can sleep, just turn on the radio and leave me be,” is an an ingeniously mundane statement. It’s aptly phrased insights like that which grant Jake & The Jellyfish such mass appeal. Similarly the opening lines to Graveyard (“We used to drink in the graveyard in town…”) encapsulate the experiences of every British teenager with enchanting simplicity. Graveyard is an uptempo stomper of a song, guaranteed to get you dancing whether it be in your bedroom, at your office desk or in sweaty basement venues around the country.
The Shakes opens with a tantalising bassline that breaks into electric guitar, channeling more traditional punk rock influences but still tying it all together with Jake’s agreeable vocal cracks and variations. Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peas rattles with frustration, spitting out of your speakers with edgy and appealing force. It’s one of the most straightforward tracks on the record, but an ideal vehicle for expelling anti-racist anger.
The album drifts into a lighter acoustic ebb on the opening to Comics, giving Jake’s effortlessly-catchy lyrics a chance to shine, although they’re quickly joined by accordion and frantic percussion. It’s tunes like Comics that gives Long in Winters a jangly off-the-cuff folk feel. Although The Jellyfish are clearly well established musicians, their fresh and unique sound gives the impression of a ragtag group of troubadours who’ve just met for the first time and created something magical. Comics quickly becomes my favourite tune on the album.
Social Smoker yet again showcases a knack for wry songwriting: “You’re a social smoker, I’m a social waste of space.” It drifts from full-band energy through a bright acoustic-only section, held together with a strong rhythm. No One Remembers Song Titles Anyway gives the heartwarming violin a chance to shine more brightly, especially in the short solo, making it one of my favourite tracks.
The final track on the record, and the title track, begins simply with vocals and acoustic guitar, sounding less perfectly-produced than the rest of the album. The stripped back sound makes you sit up and take notice of the heartfelt sentiments conveyed in the lyrics, “With age it only gets worse, let’s make more of an effort to stay in touch // You said I’m long in winters but short in years.” It’s a bittersweet and touching end to a beautifully crafted record.
There are few bands who sound as passionate and honest as Jake & The Jellyfish manage to on so many of their songs. Long In Winters is everything that Jake & The Jellyfish fans could ask for, and certainly a release worth investigating for any folk-punk fan.
The new record Long In Winters is due out on January 26th, with a shiny green vinyl version coming from Invisible Llama Music. You can order it HERE.
They’re playing an album launch show at Wharf Chambers on February 1st with Dead Extras and Fraser of The Murderburgers, plus a show on Feb 3rd at Hydra in Bristol.
Follow Jake & The Jellyfish on Facebook.
Review by Sarah Williams.