Andrew Jackson Jihad
Can't Maintain


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
December 13th, 2009 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sloppy and sincere, this is one of the better rock records this year.

Just in case you hadn't looked at the tracklisting yet, the tenth song on this album is called "Love Will Fuck Us Apart".

There are two very distinct, very different mentalities that could lead somebody to write and record a song with that name. The first means that the song is parodic; that they've taken one of popular music's few remaining sacred cows and attacked it, making it profane. The second means that, for the writer, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" actually didn't go far enough - that the love and loss expressed in the song was too simple, too clean, and that it didn't reflect the realities of messy, violent passion.

Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Love Will Fuck Us Apart" is the latter, which might surprise you. It certainly surprised me, given that some of the other track titles include "We Didn't Come Here to Rock" and "Love in the Time of Human Papillomavirus". That's a sexually transmitted disease that often leads to cancer of the penis and/or anus, just in case you were wondering. You'd be forgiven for dismissing AJJ as a joke band off the back of that, but the reality is that they've got so much emotion coursing through their songs that they can barely contain it at times. Parallels could obviously be drawn with Cap'n Jazz - another band who were messy and scattershot, and happy to crack a joke, but were never anything less than completely sincere.

What Can't Maintain sounds more like, though, is Frank Turner. Arguably it sounds more like Turner than Turner himself, actually - while they remain ultimately an anti-folk band, the more frantic pace and the punkier delivery (think Against Me!) would have made much more sense coming off the back of Million Dead than Sleep Is for the Week did. No matter - what binds them is the plain, direct, honest expression they both employ. "We Didn't Come Here to Rock" is a perfect example, its critic-baiting topic matter completely tired but its delivery and execution completely perfect ('If that's what gets your dick hard/Telling people they're bad at making art'). The rest of the albums deal almost exclusively with love and loss, though - from 'you will cough up crows that peck my eyes/And I will do nothing but go blind', to 'I will always appreciate bad days like this/Because they grant me a point of reference in regards to my happiness'. It's on "Who Are You?", a song about an absent father, that the record reaches its emotional apex though:

Would I have done what you did?
Would I do what you have done?
I like to think I'm a bigger man than that

You had some problems with alcohol
You took 12 steps and you solved them all
It took 16 years for you to call
What gave you the braves to pick up at all?


With all that going on it's remarkable that the album's as listenable as it is. It's certainly much more melodic and accessible than much of the music you could compare it to; just one of the many reasons this is one of 2009's biggest treats.



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user ratings (320)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
robin EMERITUS (4)
Electric guitars make for a controversial album... or just a good one?...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Roach
December 13th 2009


2148 Comments


People who can eat people is better but yeah good album

robin
Emeritus
December 13th 2009


4249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is totally awesome. your review bests mine, esp in balance obv

i think with ajj (similar to against me!, maybe) you have to accept the parallel line irony and sincerity take in their music. "who are you" is obviously intensly emotional but they're clearly aware of it being over the top (they actually self-ref themselves with the "what gave you the brave" line, based on brave as a noun on people). also this is their least sloppy release thus far, but yeah i guess you're right

NotMrBlonde
December 13th 2009


395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Review is spot on but this is actually bordering on a five for me now.

PanasonicYouth
December 13th 2009


7411 Comments


album rules but people who can eat people is definitely better

kitsch
December 14th 2009


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i have people and i like it but kinda forgot about it

Transient
December 14th 2009


1461 Comments


'The first means that the song is parodic; that they've taken one of popular music's few remaining scared cows and attacked it, making it profane.'

supposed to be sacred?

P13
December 14th 2009


1327 Comments


I'll get this soon considering I love "People who can eat people..."

DanReligion
December 15th 2009


38 Comments


Saw them live earlier this year right after People Who Can... I believe back in January. Awesome show. Sort of burned myself out on them though. I've heard this and it's okay.

Iai
Emeritus
December 15th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Love Will Tear Us Apart is definitely a scared cow.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

sorry but other than dreamevil this is one band who no matter how hard i attempt to like i just find nothing but terrible disgust for.

Roach
December 17th 2009


2148 Comments


eurrghw lol ddream evil

armavirumquecano
December 18th 2009


15 Comments


HPV is most notably known to lead to cervical cancer in women, not many men get the HPV vaccine.

AcBandit
December 22nd 2009


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

White Face, Black Eyes is so freaking beautiful.

One of the best records of the year, although I think I still like People a bit more.

witchxrapist
December 24th 2009


11041 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

John u dumb.

And this is so good to drink to.

PanasonicYouth
December 25th 2009


7411 Comments


yeah this is awesome
john don't know what he talkin bout

PirateSquid
December 25th 2009


1881 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Raise your hand if John is a buttface.
*Raise*

This album is win. Go listen to ur Mesa Verde.

witchxrapist
December 25th 2009


11041 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cause you know, Mesa Verde isn't actually thoughtful music...

natey
December 28th 2009


4170 Comments


good point

corb
December 28th 2009


59 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album, great band. I do like this less than 'candy, cigs, and cap guns' and 'people who can eat people' but those are both incredible albums

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 1st 2014


19800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

self esteem is a great track

Digging: Yellowcard - Lift a Sail



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