Before I begin this review can I ask that all readers move their tray tables into the upright position and fasten their seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
The Ceiling is JAWS third album and according to their press release “their new material is their most ambitious so far, adding new textures and further honing a sound that has been theirs since their inception.” Ambitious you say? I like a band that pushes themselves. New textures? As I am a newcomer to JAWS, I’ll need to take your word for that one sir.
So, with those words ringing in our ears let’s dive straight in at the beginning, for that is where this album starts. Lead single ‘Driving at Night’ is magnificent. Its darkly brooding instrumentation is nicely contrasted by the uplifting vocal line. This song sets the tone of a band with their sights on the stadium shows of the summer. I cannot stress enough how much I like this track and the equally anthemic ‘Do You Remember’. Both are far and away the strongest tracks on the album and deserving of single status.
That said, the next song, ‘Feel’ drifts into, what I can only describe as, sub-Kooks territory. I mean, its really bad. The band eschew the indie credibility for some semblance of sub-chart pop. ‘Fear’ is much the same with it’s Maroon 5 drum feel. ‘Patience’ feels like an attempt to mimic the recent Coldplay sound, ill-advised even when successful, but alas not here.
‘End of the World’ picks things back up with its Cure like vibe and gorgeous swagger. ‘Looking/Passing’ has us firmly back on the stadium stage as does the title track and ‘Please be Kind’.
The album ends really oddly on an acoustic track called ‘January’. A complete, but not unwelcome, departure from the overall feel of the album. The only thing that spoils it for me is the strange treatment of the vocals. Dry and sparse it really jars against the warm lush acoustic guitar.
In summary, what we have here is three quarters of a stunning album. JAWS appear to be confused as to who they are and by bringing in the commercial production on some tracks have really compromised the frankly brilliant tracks.
The Ceiling is released on 5th of April.