Review Summary: Jeniferever dazzles us and fiddles around with pretty tones and catchy hooks on this feel-good release, but only once they’ve checked “being a tedious post-rock band” off their to-do list.
If one forejudges Jeniferever’s 3rd LP Silesia
based on the alleged inspiration for its title, the railway station where frontman Kristofer Jönson first heard of his father’s death a few months before the writing for the album came to light, one might believe that this release would be their most forlorn-sounding yet. After all, the Swedish post-rock quartet has garnered a cult-like fanbase for their signature style of meshing atmospheric rock with a tinge of the kind of despair usually found in emo-identified bands. While their two previous records, Spring Tides
and Choose a Bright Morning
have brought about comparisons to acts such as Sunny Day Real Estate
, The Appleseed Cast
, it should be noted that Jeniferever are not contriving their music solely from their influences.
In the past, what has parted the band from the formulaic post-rock way of conducting a song from a tedious build-up that soars to a predictable height is their ability to give distinct, sentimental purpose to every piece of their music. Jeniferever leaves their listeners in a place of grave remembrance, with afflictive lyrics delivered in an austere tone washed with ringing guitars and splashy, steadfast percussion. However, with the prior release of Silesia
’s first single, Waifs & Strays
, Jeniferever was speculated to have shifted their sound dramatically toward a more uplifting, moving one. Jönson further stated, referring to the album that he “liked the idea of naming it after a railway station since it’s a place of motion, a place where people arrive and depart and sometimes maybe depart never to come back…”. As intriguing as this was, it meant that fans could not expect an album analogous to the last two, and this raised the question of whether or not the change would be positive for the band. While Waifs & Strays
was easily likable, it seems that Jeniferever had made an effort to be more accessible, as many post-rock bands have done in recent years, but with that, they finally fallen victim to the dreary conventions of a doomed genre?
Not to drop hope for this release, but as I slowly ease through the first and title track, the unwavering way the band flows through the song towards a dull outro makes me figure a bitter “yes” to this question. That is until Silesia
seems redeemed for a while as I’m treated to the formerly mentioned single, Waifs & Strays
, and The Beat of our Own Blood
. Both feel-good, energetic tracks are perfectly suited to springtime with their catchy chorus hooks and a driven drum line. While the comparison might be unexpected, the hectic drumming on The Beat of our Own Blood
is reminiscent of Foals
’ earlier material, which makes me think that Jeniferever have finally done themselves good by making music that sounds like it could potentially earn radioplay. While that thought repeatedly fades and returns throughout the rest of the album, it’s a solid statement that Jeniferever is altogether, fine at what they do. If one focuses on the brighter moments of this record, they’ll find stunning, careening guitars, symphonic additions, like the cello and the viola (strikingly in Cathedral Peak
) and their reflective, softly carried lyrical style. They know how to peak interest with a certain texture, notably with their distressed, crunchy guitar tone and most of the tracks are well structured and precise with their direction.
Where they fall short with Silesia
lies primarily in the monotony of many of the tracks, like the 9-minute closer Hearths
, suffering from the token post-rock offense where an intro or a build-up can drag on and wander enough to bore some to tears. Jeniferever would do better to stick with shorter, more succinct songs that don’t sound like expanded versions of 30 seconds worth of material. It is on the shorter songs on the record like Where the Hills Fast Towards the Ocean
and Deception Pass
(which unfortunately, sounds like a recycled version of The Beat of Our Own Blood
) that Jeniferever deals with best when executing their musical ideas without filler. Additionally, the way the band relies on melody and neglects their lack of harmonic aspects could make it seem like Silesia
is just a collection of pretty pictures with no frames.
If this is Jeniferever’s attempt at making music that isn’t depressing and anxious, they should stick with being depressing and anxious. While I wouldn’t call Silesia
a disappointment, I expected more growth and less compliance to the garden-variety post-rock band insipidity. It’s easily understood that Silesia
is not uninspired, but simply ineffectively executed. It’s not as if listening to Jeniferever is an unenjoyable experience in any respect, but the band has a problem with extinguishing many of their bright ideas just soon as they arise and it’s become very obvious with Silesia
. The way humdrum concepts are often dragged along without ever bursting into a powerful crescendos like they’ve successfully done on their previous releases suggests that while they can definitely be a talented band, they’re not quite meant to be a talented post-rock band; bring back the explosions, or stick to shoegazing, boys.