by Mike DaRonco
For a band to follow up its successful debut album is a guaranteed challenge, especially if your band happens to be Jets to Brazil.
Orange Rhyming Dictionary will always be looked at as Blake Schwarzenbach’s (vocal-guitar-keyboard) post-Jawbreaker project. And with a rhythm section formerly of Texas is the Reason and the Van Pelt, this project has indie enthusiasts and zine critics breathing a collective warning that it had better be good, or else.
This pressure has resulted in a skillfully crafted album of crisp, self-conscious pop. On Four Cornered Night, the overall tone is a lot more relaxed, however, as the Jets settle into their own sound without feeling overshadowed by prior bands; the proof being the bouncier, straightforward pop that almost crosses the line between uplifting and cheesy.
After an awkward guitar introduction slightly resembling AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” “You’re Having The Time of My Life” sets the standard of a not-so-gloomy atmosphere. Then there’s the closing — “All Things Good and Nice” — a tongue-in-cheek tribute as Blake salutes: “I love my guitarist his chops from outer space/He can make my three chords sound like eight.”
Heavy keyboards on “Mid-Day Afternoon,” “In The Summer’s When You Really Know” and “Little Light” — the latter two being definite highlights — confirm that the members of the Jets are letting go of personal conflicts and major-label woes from prior formations. Although a more cheerful tone won’t sever the members from their own credited past, Four Cornered Night is a step closer for Blake and company to feel more like a band than a high expectation.
Mike DaRonco writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail email@example.com.