Review Summary: Rise. Fall. Repeat.
Midwest emo is no stranger to the pattern of the rise and fall - the meandering build to an emotional crescendo. It’s a tried-and-tested formula which, when successful, provides the listener with moments of anticipation, sometimes brief, that reward an entire song in return. It just so happens that The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up are better than most at manoeuvring this formula, whereby an ethereal classic verse-chorus structure counts down patiently to the release. It’s calculated, slow-core inspired, dig-deep into your skin, blink-and-you-might-miss-it sort of stuff that requires time. It’s Winter Here
is music which sounds better on the tenth listen than the first - and even better on the hundredth.
The album strikes best when each elongated guitar tone, melody and lyric sound so familiar; where the inevitable crash is practically built into your ears-expectation. Further, each crescendo bursts with such conviction that you’d be forgiven for getting lost in the emotion, even where the lyrics sound so personal to the singer and so foreign to you. For example, one of the perfect microcosms of this discussion is situated on the song Breakdown Champion. Here, a soft croon serves as anticipation into the first chorus which only hints at release. Instead the song fades back to the familiar twinkle of the four introductory guitar notes into the repeated croon of the first verse, building softly through the chorus and then, finally, the release - ‘often when I'm sitting in my room, I stare at my poster of Prince, and sometimes I think of you and I spit when I do’
– This is easily one of my favourite moments on the album and serves as a perfect example of the rise and fall. Here, the vocalist Paul Gonzenbach roars out those final lines with so much power and feeling that a literal interpretation gets lost behind the emotional crescendo. The anguish is illuminated so successfully, a pattern repeated throughout the album.
Lyrically, It’s Winter Here
is equal parts poetic and honest. The themes covered are those sadly familiar to many; the fear of the monotonous cycle of low-paid employment, relationship anxiety and all-too-regular melancholy. This is paired with the combination of three guitars that expertly walk the line of tension until the inevitable fall of the crash – gloriously cathartic and perfectly rewarding. It’s intensity and precision often sought in music, but rarely achieved.
It’s incredibly disheartening, therefore, to see The Jim-Yoshii Pile Up simply lost in time. To me, they could have been so much more. On It’s Winter Here
, they crafted their own unique blend of twinkly Midwest emo, balancing placid slow-core softness expertly against a post-rock manoeuvre of tension and release. It remains a genuine breath of fresh air in a genre too-often the victim of similarity. It’s deserving of cult status, however has been unfortunately forgotten with time - for now.