Review Summary: Not awful, but this overlong 2nd release by derivative Australian rock band contains few highlights and includes insufficient variation in amongst the clear attempt to grow.
Australian rock band Jet must have had a lot of thoughts running through their minds during the writing and recording process of their 2nd album ‘Shine On’. Their debut ‘Get Born’ was loved by many as it was so fun, catchy and rocking that it eventually saw at least the album’s standout tracks become successful worldwide. Yet, ‘Get Born’ was probably hated by just as many, with some critics bashing its derivativeness and lack of originality. Would Jet stick to what got them noticed or prove the critics wrong" Unsurprisingly, they aim for a combination of both and the results are very much mixed.
It may sound superficial, but the lack of an up-tempo standout in the same mould as the debut’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ really hurts ‘Shine On’. Even worse is the clear attempt to remake the song (with slight variations of course) in lead single ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’. Complete with tambourine shaking in the background, this is very much a poor man’s version of the aforementioned track which was eventually used by iPod in an advertising campaign. It’s not awful. Actually, it’s a decent cut. But it is not anything too noteworthy and a rather average lead single.
Thankfully, other recreations work better and lead to the album’s two standout cuts. The title track is this album’s ‘Look What You’ve Done’ and brings to the public’s attention another thought that was clearly on the band’s mind when making this album; The death of the father of two of the band members. A very nice, personal and fittingly emotional ballad, this song flows beautifully and is a resounding heartfelt success. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this album’s ‘Take It Or Leave It’ is track 10 ‘Rip It Up’, which brings back the fun with a no-nonsense, rapid-fire, anthemic and catchy tune that begs to be sung along with.
Unfortunately, not a great deal else is worth mentioning in all honesty and the fact that there are 14 tracks (15 when considering that different songs were used as the 5th track depending on which country you reside in) simply draws out the process to highlight the ho-hum filler nature of many of the cuts. There are a lot of laid-back mid-tempo pieces which is where the band seem to be most comfortable at. But they tend to run into each other and use only slight variations such as minor pace or instrumental adjustments. ‘Bring It On Back’ may be the best of the rest, but differentiating between it and the likes of ‘Kings Horses’, ‘Come On Come On’, ‘Skin And Bones’, ‘Shiny Magazine’ and closer ‘All You Have To Do’ is much of a muchness really.
Many of the just mentioned tracks also sound rather dated. While there is an admittedly clear throwback nature inherent to Jet’s sound, they do not seem to do enough to bring this album into the here and now sufficiently. The Beatles clearly got a lot of listening time during the making of ‘Shine On’ as a few songs towards the end of the album (especially ‘Shiny Magazine’ and the acoustic ‘Eleanor’) seem influenced by the legendary Brits.
Yet, the album’s lowlight (track 9 ‘Stand Up’) comes from a completely separate derivative source. From the uncomfortable growls in the verses to the guitar licks that float in and out, everything about this song screams out AC/DC and simply does not come off in any sense. The corny attempt at motivational lyrics also bomb here, further sinking it into the abyss. That last point is actually a shame as there does appear to be some lyrical growth shown throughout ‘Shine On’. Unfortunately, that seems to have come at the expense of the overall quality of many of the songs.
‘Shine On’ is by no means an awful album and there are very few tracks that will have you reaching for the ‘skip’ button. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many that will have you pressing ‘repeat’ either. In many ways, this is the type of growing pains release which plagues many bands second efforts. The attempt to grow (both musically & lyrically) is clear, but it unfortunately does not result in songs which are too memorable come the end of the day. The fact that the album is then overlong and contains too many similar tracks only highlights this weakness.
Recommended Tracks: Shine On, Rip It Up & Bring It On Back.