Review Summary: Engage forward movement and sweatiness. The lyrics don't matter.
Flip on Jarcrew's self-titled. Instantly, you're a spy, and you're being pursued down the high street of a small Welsh town. Comic book style framing of faces; eyes widen; a foot race ensues. You've gained a little - you catch your breath with your back to the corner of wall. And then someone jumps on a stack of acrylic paint tubes - you're caught in a post-hardcore rainbow money shot mural. Opener mission accomplished.
Jarcrew's members hail from a miniscule town in Wales. After getting an enthusiastic underground following, things started to happen - they even got some funding to re-master their debut, and embark on a country wide tour. Typical of interesting bands, they imploded. Front man Kelson Matthias joined the brilliant Future of the Left, and that was that.
They left behind this little shapeshifter of a record. There's a fair bit of screaming, but it doesn't sound angry - more like a bratty trip on energy drinks. The front five tracks smash you like synthetic pina colada filled balloons, but in the chaos, they easily morph into snippets of great pop. Two minutes and some change into 'Defacto Symphony', and they shift up from a noisy bed jumping party into the best Strokes song you've never heard. The single 'Paris & The New Math' is just pure dance punk designed to get you to mumble the insanely catchy hook as a mantra before diving into rearranging your cupboard after twelve months of organisational paralysis. 'Boy Wonder’ sounds like Britt Daniel being flattened by a runaway organ. Any bystanders engage in a dance-off afterwards.
As much as I love this album, I must admit there is a potential sequencing flaw. 'Bill Carson', presumably named after the Western guitarist (I did not know the strat was designed for him!), slows everything down with a moody twang surf intro that drifts into a synth field, then meanders into a climatic guitar passage. It all gets a bit post rock going into the second half of the ten minute instrumental. I don't really dislike it, and a band like this needs to run wild to work. My gripe is it doesn't fit in the flow, but I could see someone else loving this divider track.
The final stretch picks itself up - still rough and tumble, but maybe just a bit slower to let your calves recover, and to show that the band also knows about horns. Closer 'Sad French Death Metal' picks up chaos thread in your listener sweater, and has the has the band repeatedly shouting the upbeat hook over moody piano keys introduced like a dance track layer (perhaps as a nod to the title?). Then they congo it out.