Review Summary: An edgy and impressive final album from one of post-hardcore’s most influential bands.
Following the footsteps of the influential Fugazi in the late 1980’s, Jawbox played a very crucial role in the development of post-hardcore. After the Washington, D.C. hardcore punk veterans known as Government Issue called it quits, band member J. Robbins decided to form a different kind of band. Surely, the newly formed Jawbox had big shoes to fill as their peers Fugazi had already exploded onto the scene with their new take on hardcore music. However, Jawbox were unique in their own right and the band’s talents are on full display on the band’s self-titled album.
Although it can’t quite hold a match to their breakthrough album For Your Own Special Sweetheart
, the band’s final release is still a great effort. Founding member Robbins sounds as confident as ever and his vocal style fits the genre well. His low croons provide a moody atmosphere that make for quite the listening experience and songs like ‘Iodine' and ‘Excandescent’ display this perfectly. He also tends to save his deepest emotions for the choruses, bringing them to life with his harshest vocals. However, he’s not afraid to show off his more aggressive pipes on songs like the fast-paced ‘His Only Trade’ and the unconventional ‘Chinese Fork Tie.’ The first of the two takes on a more straightforward punk approach than the other tracks as Robbins proves he is a force to be reckoned with.
In many ways Robbins is the backbone of Jawbox, but the band wouldn’t sound the same without the additional talent at hand. The entire album is packed with exceptional drumming and creative guitar work and even the bass stands out to give the band a very pleasant and full sound. The instrumentation also doesn’t lack variety and songs like ‘Desert Sea’ and 'Capillary Life’ showcase the band’s creativity with some of the most exciting guitar work on the album. The rest of the songs follow a similar nature, managing to be as memorable as they are laid back.
It’s no easy task to create songs that take their time, but still manage to pack such a punch. However, Jawbox managed to do so consistently throughout their self titled album. If there’s any fault to be found in the release, it’s that it may be a chore for some to sit through 14 songs, but even the album’s weaker tracks have something to offer the listener. Whether it be in the original and confident vocals of Robbins or the exceptional instrumentation found on nearly every track, the album is hard not to enjoy. It may be a grower, but it’s an album that shouldn’t be missed from one of post-hardcore’s most influential bands.