Review Summary: Jets to Brazil create a more than adequate stepping stone for their progression into a more emotional, heartfelt, and softer territory.
Damn you, Blake Schwarzenbach, with your ridiculous name and your sweet, mellifluous voice. Not enough people are aware of this indie rock gem, based out of Brooklyn, NY. All it takes is a little dusting off, and Jets to Brazil
will surely become a favorite for anyone who places this album next to Jets to Brazils’ contemporaries, Death Cab For Cutie
, The Arcade Fire
, or maybe Jimmy Eat World
. I’m sure we’ve all had certain albums, some superb and some downright horrible, trapped in our heads for extended periods of time. Four Cornered Night
, Jets to Brazil’s second album, has been playing on repeat throughout my head virtually unceasingly for the past three days. Blake really opens up here and lets his contradictory gloomy yet hopeful lines fill your head with images of hammocks, lazy rivers, and sunny summer afternoons with nothing to do. This is most likely due to the addition of Brian Maryansky to the band, which allowed Blake to concentrate solely on the piano. Don’t get me wrong, Jets can still rock when deemed necessary, but it’s really the slow, deliberate punch-lines perfectly executed by Blake’s unique voice that stand out.
The biggest difference between and Jets to Brazil’s debut is the lack of instrumentation. They have relegated the guitar to the background and replaced it with their prominent vocals. Content with simple guitar melodies, Jets to Brazil put all their chips into the pot, banking on the vocals and lyrics. For the most part, this seems like an advantageous decision.
At first, having a catchy song like “Orange Rhyming Dictionary” trapped in my subconscious wasn’t dreadful. Before I downloaded the entire album, that particular song was a top favourite of mine in the entire Jets’ repertoire. It’s a sluggish, thoughtful song with some all-time great depressing lyrics, brought to you in front of an adequate guitar line. “Doooo the stars conspire, to kill us all with loneliness?” Blake asks the listener, patiently awaiting an answer.
Later, it becomes apparent that this is just the tip of Blake’s iceberg of melancholy emotion. Another highlight of Four Cornered Night
is “Empty Picture Frame”. This song provides the listener with a bottomless impression of loneliness. Blake is reminiscing about a past relationship, knowing things will ultimately improve in the future, but still unable to overcome these dejected sentiments. However, Night does reach a low with the song “All Things Good and Nice”, the last song on the album. For twelve songs, Blake managed to walk fairly well on a very thin line of sappy lyrics and over-sentimentality. The problem goes as such: that line is like a median strip of a four-lane highway, and when Blake crosses it, he jumps two lanes out and gets hit by a large oncoming vehicle traveling very fast. There was a point when I was singing this song to myself and it made me want to do the same. Yeah, it’s that bad. Blake takes the time to mention every member of his family and his band and just exactly why he loves them. At first listen, I prayed that this was just sarcasm leaking from the singer’s mouth, but that’s not Jets’ style.
Despite an extremely impressive start and a pitiful ending, Jets manage to slip in some quality songs to the middle of the album. “In the Summer's When You Really Know”, “One Summer Last Fall”, and “Pale New Dawn”, all deserve recognition as delightful songs with Blake’s sentimental lyrics. Nevertheless, the reason I’m able to mention them all in the same sentence is because the music behind Blake’s voice becomes stale background music that all sounds similar.
In retrospect, there’s few albums I would have rather had stuck in my head, right now. Despite a few mishaps in “All Things Good and Nice" and "Air Traffic Control”, Jets to Brazil managed to do what most bands have a very difficult time trying to do. They notably altered their previous sound and also managed to put together an excellent album. Sure, old Jawbreaker
fans are most likely going to detest this, but to me it sounds like a stepping stone onward to bigger and better endeavors for Jets to Brazil.