Review Summary: Mission: Get Noticed. Result: Success. Derivative debut has a feel-good nature and pleasing strike rate of hits compared to misses which makes this album difficult to dislike.
If there is any album which has been released over the past decade that gets “The Derivative Debate” going more than Australian band Jet’s debut ‘Get Born’, then I am unsure what that album is. You know the debate I am talking about; The one which asks whether or not albums can be liked and/or rated highly if they are clearly derivative of past musical releases. Yet, how often do you see a critic be picky and choosy about what they include in a review? For example; “Band C sucks because they rip off the vastly superior Band B”, yet no mention whatsoever is made of how Band B arguably sounds very similar to Band A.
To get the topic over and done with, it is indeed fact that Jet sound very similar to a few bands from the past. Their raw garage rock sound borrows from the likes of The Rolling Stones, AC/DC and even The Beatles. Furthermore, there is also a clear mid 1990’s Oasis vibe about many tracks, which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since ‘Get Born’ was produced by Dave Sardy, who has previously worked with the Brits (as well as the likes of Wolfmother & Marilyn Manson).
Of course, this is a debut album, so it could all be a ploy to get their voice heard in the first place… A “foot in the door” so to speak. On that level, it works well as no matter which way you look at it, there are some catchy, memorable and attention-seeking songs amongst the 13 deep track listing. Case in point is lead single ‘Are You Gonna be My Girl’, which did more than get it’s foot in the door by being included on movie soundtracks, video games and the now customary defining point of being chosen as a song for an Apple iPod advertisement. From its opening tambourine & thick bass-line to its clever mixture of racket and silence via guitars and drums, it is a cut that simply stands out positively.
The argument of having a debut album by a rock band getting heard by the masses is further backed up by the fact that 2nd single ‘Rollover DJ’ lyrically conveys the band’s frustration of struggling to find venues in which to showcase their wares at. The predominant reason for this is cited as the ever-increasing success rate of dance music and the fact that DJs had now become bona fide musical stars.
Following the opening ‘Last Chance’, which uses its AC/DC like guitars to play more as a preview sample than an actual song, tracks 2-4 highlight the albums first 3 singles. In addition to the 2 releases already mentioned, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ screams out “We can sing ballads too” as Jet summon The Beatles in piecing together a fine piano-driven cut which unfashionably and near-perfectly finds that evasive right combination of emotion and melody. The band doesn’t do a bad job replicating such success later with the organ and guitar backed ‘Come Around Again’ and emotional closer ‘Timothy’ either.
Despite the derivative nature of large portions of ‘Get Born’, it definitely does not mean that Jet churn out the same song over and over again. In fact, they get slightly experimental at times, even if the success rate with these tracks is not all that flash. ‘Move On’ is an acoustic ballad with hints of country that comes complete with harmonica, while the following ‘Radio Song’ and atmospheric penultimate track ‘Lazy Gun’ also add variation to some degree. It’s just a shame that the former two are placed together in the track order as it hinders the mid-album flow a little too much.
What ultimately allows ‘Get Born’ to be a success and overcome its weaknesses is its feel-good nature. There is a fun sing-along feel to many of the tracks included here and I am not only talking about its highlights, as the Rolling Stones-like ‘Get What You Need’, old-fashioned common man themed ‘Get Me Outta Here’ and attention-seeking ‘Cold Hard B!tch’ are all solid cuts. Particularly of note is the short rapid-fire rocker ‘Take It or Leave It’, that is especially contagious due to its 1950’s like surfy guitar riff.
‘Get Born’ is clearly not an album that is going to change the music industry, but it is one which is difficult to dislike. Some people will discount it due to its derivative nature and that is fair enough. But those looking for a fun rocking sing-along leaning more towards a garage rock type of sound should be pleased with the strike rate of successful songs on show here.
Recommended Tracks: Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Look What You’ve Done, Take It Or Leave It & Get Me Outta Here.