The Long Fall Back to Earth

There's a new Jars of Clay album out, which means that I've actually purchased another CD. (No, Good Monsters wasn't the last album I bought... that'd be Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! back in '07...)

I've been disappointed by a few albums lately (most notably No Line on the Horizon, which doesn't have a single track I like) for the insipid and predictable re-treading of old riffs and sounds in songs that seem to have been written specifically to avoid sounding like anything at all. (Even "Sexy Boots" manages to be a boring song.)
Jars of Clay is still Jars of Clay, but not in a bad way. This album does not disappoint. The Long Fall sounds like a Jars album, but it has more in common with Christmas Songs than any of their past "mainstream" albums--these boys are continuing to develop their sound. I wish they'd been able to tap one or two more songs from the alt-folk/country vein that runs through Eleventh Hour/Who We are Instead, but then again "Mirror and Smoke" always seemed a little bit out of place on Good Monsters and would be totally wrong here.

The album has an interesting mix of styles (and, arguably, influences...) The intro track reminds me of "Life in Technicolor" from Viva La Vida, setting an electro-acoustic tone for the album. (Unlike Coldplay's intro, "The Long Fall" actually carries into track two, "Weapons.") "Heaven" and "Don't Stop" are dark, with (if I'm not mistaken) a disco beat, sounding quite a bit like the Killers. "Closer" brings out the brass section for something of a Sufjan Stevens vibe (in an electronic sort of way...) while "Headphones" is a near-parody of soft-rock/pop. All of these sound like Jars of Clay tracks, but with a distinct twist.

The highlight of the album comes, as expected, at the 3/4 mark, with "Boys (Lesson One)" and "Hero;" one ballad and one anthem; one could argue that "Hero" steals the piano-riff idea from [insert your favorite piano rock group here], but otherwise the style is classic Jars.
Have a listen:

The Album loops nicely, with "Heart" not quite fading out into the ether.

Since this isn't a review, I won't quantify an album "score," but I will say that I would buy it again if I were to lose the CD (since I won't make an illegal backup... nope, I'd never do that...) but it wouldn't make the "deserted island with a stereo and only 25 albums" list.

To be honest, I'm still waiting for these guys to re-make their first album, but that's a bit like asking U2 to release another Joshua Tree or for Radiohead to come up with "something more like the first two albums." Not going to happen; if you like the old albums, you can still listen to them. (I haven't actually heard Jars in concert since 1997... I wonder if they're in Canada this summer...)

1 comment:

naomi said...

I wants it!!