Review Summary: A great idea that I'm sure will succeed, but as a standalone album, it's lacking in places.
With the concept of Jettison
, I always imagined it being a wonderous live experience; and now that restrictions in the UK have been lifted, fans will finally get a chance to see the Jettison
experience the way it was initially intended two years ago. The inception of Jettison
was founded on the idea of developing a soundtrack that hadn’t yet been made. This would sound somewhat queer to a long-time fan of ASIWYFA – trying to assimilate the notion the Irish quartet are making a soundtrack, when their music is and always has been cinematic and soundtrack-esque in some capacity, but I digress. However, the distinctions between Jettison
and your typical bread and butter ASIWYFA record are at times severe, and worlds apart from what we’ve heard from the band in the past. As a fan who has poured many hours into the band’s music since Gangs
, I can tell you I’m somewhat conflicted with the album’s ambitions, where it succeeds in some regards, but falters in others. This is largely because Jettison
is intrinsically tied to the visual component of the project, which was designed and created by artistic visionary Sam Wiehl.
In its current state, I feel the album is afflicted with impermanent blindness. Though it seems perfectly reasonable why the band hasn’t released the visual portion of the Jettison
project on the same day as the album’s release (at the time of writing, I couldn’t find the visuals for the project and thus basing my review solely on the album), it feels like only half of the experience. Indeed, if my assumption is correct and Sam’s visuals are pay-walled exclusively for the live show – which, again, seems like a perfectly reasonable decision, to entice audiences to get involved with the whole live event – I feel, as a listener sat in his arm chair listening to just the music behind Jettison
, I’m only getting half of the complete puzzle. It's not a complete disaster though. In regards to the album's content, the majority of its merits fall onto the songwriting, which is both incredibly textured and serene. The tracklisting has the songs laid out separately, however, the last track compiles the album into one long track, because that’s how the record was meant to be listened to. The gorgeous symphonic layers and ethereal choir backdrop sets the tone for ASIWYFA’s shimmering guitar passages and nuanced drum work, bringing a very real divergence from what we’ve previously heard from the band in the past, and the album as a whole feels tight-knit and cohesive in tone.
However, there are a few problems that reveal some cracks in the polished production and multi-faceted songwriting. As much as I appreciate the value in their efforts to do something different, it falls short because the visual component isn’t there to synergise with the instrumentals’ labours. One could rightly retort that you don’t need to watch a movie to enjoy the soundtrack from it, and you’d certainly be correct with that assessment. However, not all soundtracks work well on their own, and unfortunately for Jettison
, I feel it falls under that umbrella. This is a very subdued and atmospheric experiment, and I’d wager the live show itself will bring immense beauty and peaks and troughs that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end for the duration; and with the video, coupled with a great lightshow, it will bring something very idiosyncratic to the table, and should not be missed by anyone. As an album though, it lacks the band’s fundamental traits: there’s no crunchy grooves or sludgy, fuzzy riffs to grab onto here. Rarely does Jettison
show its teeth, and when it does, it’s very brief and half-arsed.
Overall, it’s a decent little record. It’s not a long album, but I feel the whole purpose of Jettison
was to get people off their butts to go and see one of their live shows. And that’s something that stayed in the back of my mind every time I went back to the album. Even with Wiehl’s contributions present while you’re sitting at home, I still think it’s something you have to experience in person with the band. As an album, it recedes from their stapled hallmarks, and relies on other aspects to help form what I’m sure will be a wonderful idea with the sum of its parts in unison. As it stands as just an album, it warrants a few spins, but you’ll get way more from their other works.