How many albums are there out in the universe that would, in perfect world, be ep’s? Or maybe two albums.
Say what you will about Radiohead’s last two records, at least they were thinking seriously about album structure. Instead of piling it on, they stepped back, decided they liked where things were going, and made two structurally coherent albums that don’t lose our interest (at least due to excessive length).
Storage capacity in the CD lead to this insane idea that bands need to fill up eighty minutes of space. That’s nuts. It worked for double albums because the vinyl sides broke the music up into digestible sizes (or they were made by Prince during his prime and no one gave a shit how long they were because they were so fucking good and every song blew your mind). But there are countless CD’s that become tiresome after the 60th minute. REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi and the new Bruce Springsteen being tragic examples (Bruce was thinking though. The Rising actually flows right; the middle songs are just weak). I call for more self editing
This brings us to Jucifer’s new I Name You Destroyer. Jucifer is another two piece group that sounds like a four piece. Amber Valentine plays great low-end guitar and sings like the Ice Queen of Georgia while Edgar Livengood hammers away at the drums. They sound like Nina Persson fronting a punk/metal group. The music is dense and compressed and grinds over itself throughout the course of the album. The best tracks roll a little bit with the grind, usually propelled by the relentless drumming.
They’re never as spooky as the Goth influenced Valentine wants them to sound, but when they rock like they do on “Fight Song” and “Amplifier”, it doesn’t matter. Neither do the lyrics which tend to dwell on abstract images and popular girls with drug problems. It’s cool though because it’s the sound that matters. It’s heavy and fun with killer riffs and an enormous bottom end for a band without a bass player.
The SONGS are varied and always interesting. “Lazing”, a five and a half minute southern hip-hoppy goof-off serves as the best change of pace on the record. Musically, it is miles removed from the pretentious guitar/vocal dirges that keep peeking out between the good songs on the album. A few of the dirges work, but over the course of fifteen tracks, enough gets to be enough; the rhythm just keeps getting bogged down on the slow ones. Maybe the drumming is too primitive for these songs, they need to be lightened up a bit, and maybe this is where a bass player could keep the arrangements interesting. We like Jucifer lively or at least as lively as their swampy-ice queen-primitive-selves are on tracks like “Sea Blind” and “Queen B”.
But man, they sound great, and this is an album I really want to love, but they drag their feet too often over the course of 55 minutes to really keep me involved. Whittle this guy down to 11 tracks, and you got me, I’m in love. But not as is. It’s a singles record, not a record record.
Self editing. A must.