Review Summary: Imagine if that one kid with ADHD from your class made an album, and it was really good.
You know that one kid you were always in the same class with that never sat still? The one you swore had ADHD? Well, imagine if that kid was a visionary. Imagine if he took all his wild energy and put it into music. Everything about it would be eccentric, and at times it wouldn’t make sense, but dammit it would be interesting, amirite? Well, Drive Like Jehu’s self-titled debut album is that kid.
Following the breakup of Pitchfork in 1990, guitarist John Reis and vocalist Rick Froberg hired bassist Mike Kennedy and drummer Mark Trombino, both originally from Night Soil Man, to form Drive Like Jehu of august that year. At the same time, Reis formed Rocket From the Crypt which would later gain more notoriety in the music world. However, the self titled debut of Drive Like Jehu has just enough erratic and enthusiastic energy to flow marvelously through this album to cement them as one of the most influential and underrated of the ‘90s noise rock and post-hardcore movements. At a first glance, the music may seem like a mess, but the sheer brilliance of the album shines through during the second or third run-through where you start to notice different sections, or background noise that makes certain songs stand out more than before.
Fittingly enough, the album starts off with Caress
, personally one of my favorite songs of all time, with a driving riff from Reis as the drums and bass pleasantly take their time to kick in, and when they do, it gets you pumped. The energy never lets up in this track as Froberg’s painful-sounding, out-of-breath screams of ‘Pleasure is your crime, Junior is your punishment,‘
start to make you think twice about boinking that girl you’ve had your eye on for some time. Most of the songs are made much better by his shouts actually, such as the frantic Atom Jack
to the melancholy droning of Good Luck In Jail
. But at certain points in the album such as If It Kills You
the vocals seem a bit overdone, and sometimes a bit boring, which doesn’t help certain songs such as the nine minute snoozer O Pencil Sharp
to keep your attention.
Now if you’re like me, you can stomach longer songs as long as they are interesting enough to keep you satisfied, or have an incredible payoff at the end. The two of the longer songs on this album are the previously mentioned O Pencil Sharp
and If It Kills You
the latter being around 7 and a half minutes. My main complaint with the album, is some songs (however, not all of them) start to sound the same, and O Pencil Sharp
does absolutely nothing to stand out, nothing too interesting ever happens and it sounds virtually the same as a couple other songs on the album. So, unless you want the full experience of the album, that would be a song to skip. If It Kills You
, however, is probably one of the better songs on the album as it starts out with a funky sounding bass riff (yes, the bass is audible) and features an incredible ending. At around 6 minutes, the song starts to slow down, and get kind of evil sounding, and just when you think it’s about to end, it bursts into life with intentions to make you sulk. Very dark and well composed.
The instruments are played phenomenally well on this album and every member gets their time to shine at least twice. One of which being the incredible guitar shred section of Spikes To You
around the 1:20 mark which blew me away. The drums are getting the sh*t pounded out of them meanwhile in album closer Future Home of Stucco Monstrosity
and you just think to yourself, damn, Trombino really is a hell of a drummer.
If you can find this album, definitely check it out. It’s rawer than their sophomore and final release Yank Crime
. To some, that could be a pro or a con. But the main problem I have with this album is it is quite rare. Not so much so as Moss Icon’s Lyburnum
, but difficult enough to find that Amazon is probably your best bet. I was just lucky to stumble across it in a mom ‘n pop record store near my town. If you like noise rock, you’ll like this album. If you like erratic post-hardcore, you’ll like this album. If you’re not sure, listen to Caress
or Atom Jack
. If your opinions of either of those are high, definitely check it out.