Peace is hard to sustain. Wars break out and at times seem like peace becomes unattainable. During times of peace, one falter and everything explodes into one big chaotic mess. Peaceful music is the same. Folk artists often use the technique of tranquility to characterize their music, relaxing the listener into a daze of quiet stories woven through simple verses. However, peace is hard to sustain. The music made by many of these artists often gets tiring, lacking variety and interest. Eventually, the listener becomes restless and eager for something new. In essence, this isn’t the peaceful feeling intended by the artist. Jets to Brazil is a band that attempts to create this peaceful feeling for most of their third and final album, Perfecting Loneliness. However, the band toes the line of bland here and there, although at times the music is perfectly beautiful.
Jets to Brazil were:
Blake Schwarzenbach- Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Brian Maryansky- Guitar
Jeremy Chatelain- Bass
Chris Daly- Drums and Percussion
Perfecting Loneliness contains songs written by Schwarzenbach from his 6 weeks spent isolated from the rest of the world in a farm in Nova Scotia. The album draws much from the feeling of loneliness and despair. However, this feeling given from Schwarzenbach matches perfectly with the sublime piano, faint strummed guitars, and sparse drums, if any. The band states the album is about searching for God, love, and failing in both. Schwarzenbach originally had a few of these songs written as folk songs, but later showed them to the rest of the band and turned into the songs found on this album. However, because the album needs variety, the tranquil clean/acoustic guitar and piano ballads are not the only songs on the album. Jets to Brazil also dabble in a much more rock-oriented feel, full with distorted chords, heavy drums, and rich basslines. In this feel, Schwarzenbach shows a weakness in his singing, not gaining enough intensity for that type of feel. Normally, a calmer voice may work in that rock feel, but since on this album, that feel is used in a climatic manner, intensity is vital. However, while Schwarzenbach stands out often on the album as the main focus of the band, Jeremy Chatelain may quite possibly be the most talented member of the band. He excels in both tranquility and intensity, playing the most subterranean basslines to add the most beautiful touch to the Jets to Brazil sound. At times of intensity, he sticks to playing in the background, always adding a little bit of flair rather than just playing the roots of the chord.
As far as relaxing and tranquility goes, no song better showcases Jets to Brazil’s brilliance than Further North
. This song is obviously one of the songs written by Blake in his isolation. The song opens with folk-styled acoustic guitar. Light percussion and a perfect bassline accompany him. He sings in a calming, soothing manner, obviously describing the farm out in Nova Scotia. He describes the upsides of being isolated, but realizes how he needs someone to talk to, and he is sick of being alone. The song picks up some intensity, going to a full drum set and clean electric guitar. However, the song reverts back to just acoustic guitar and takes another trip upwards in intensity. Blake takes a verse of just him and the acoustic guitar before an instrumental break takes the stage. Chatelain really stands out on this section, playing beautiful bass that accompanies the main guitar line perfectly. Once again, Blake sings another verse, with sparse clean guitar singing with him. The chorus takes place again with the upped intensity, but again only for a short while. Due to this change of feel every once in a while, the 5 and a half minute song does not drag on.
The road tonight is cold with ice
And no cars pass by
Thank God for no phone call
Just snow and a fire
December endings and since you sent me things
I just feel further north
This year took ten years to tell me that I’m alone again
The next song, William Tell Override
, appeared on the Atticus II compilation CD and shows that the band knows their past- pop punk. While the song itself is not pop punk, the catchy hooks are unmistakably there intentionally and the band masters them. Starting with a bass slide up and a drum fill that plays along with the bass. The song enters into a groove, with rushes of melodies buzzing around from both fuzzy, distorted guitarists and the bass. Flawlessly, the chord progression changes. However, this is short lived, as everything drops out except for Blake singing. The song quickly goes through another verse and chorus and explodes into an attempt of a catchy bridge with echoed vocals. However, the echoed vocals are set far too low in the mixing and the harmonies themselves are executed poorly. The song enters a whole different section, led by a clean guitar arpeggiation. This switches out to a keyboard melody as Blake sings once again, trying to gain intensity but fails. After this short verse, a guitar solo appears which is done extremely well. Slowly, the song drops sounds out and ends on a guitar chord. Lyrically, Blake writes some of his worst as far as meaning and story goes, but there are plenty of catchy vocal hooks in the song.
This is the sun beating down your door
Feels like a gun right between the eyes
Warm in your sunshine
William Tell override
White lies and dedication
Have a seat
Glass actor swing your hammer
This isn't me
This album shines more on the softer, slower tracks rather than the more intense; however, there is a good variety of both. From Cat Heaven
to Further North
, both great tracks, the album enters a long string of slower tracks, bringing the album to feel more like a Snow Patrol or Death Cab for Cutie album. At this point, the band tip-toes the line of boring the listener and calming the listener. Conversely, Disgrace
is the epitome of chaos and letting loose emotion. Up to that point, the band maintains the peace but allows for all the anger and emotion restrained to be released in the song, with a chaotic mess of distortion, guitar effects, and pounding drums. With that all let go, the album closes perfectly with Rocket Boy
, a long yet interesting enough ballad to send the listener away with the calming feeling, taken through a rush of emotions throughout the album, even if they took a bit too long to get through.