Quick Review (LP): Jawbox by Jawbox

Atlantic/TAG; 1996

My Rating: B-

Best Tracks: “Mirrorful”, “Iodine”, “Spoiler”, “Absenter”, “Desert Sea”

There are at least 5 great tracks on Jawbox‘s self-titled fourth album (see above). Unfortunately, the rest of the album’s songs come off like throwbacks to their early days (Grippe-era) or FM radio pandering, and the production is so sexed up and snappy that it robs Jawbox of the mighty noise that made For Your Own Special Sweetheart such a triumph. Just listen. Barocas’ drums sounds like firecrackers rather than bombs awash with sonic salvation, and Kimmy’s bass sounds tinny and flat, like something off of a Limp Bizkit record (no disrespect to her actual playing). And the songs? Take “Chinese Fork Tie” for example. The big rock chorus is awkward and goofy, especially executed by a band with as much substance as Jawbox. And the slick, cherubic background vocals on “Excandescent”? When you’ve got the vocal chemistry that Robbins and Barbot share, why go that route? In hindsight, I’m not sure if the band was trying to deliver a pop smash, trying a new direction, or something else. The eponymous album title this late in a career is usually not a good sign, and I think it’s an indicator of why this album fell flat as a whole, and also perhaps why it was their last. Not withstanding the handful of truly brilliant tracks, it looks like the inspiration was running dry.

AMG review
My review of For Your Own Special Sweetheart
My review of Novelty
My review of Grippe
My review of their first EP
”Mirrorful” music theory write-up from the Hooks blog

One Response to Quick Review (LP): Jawbox by Jawbox

  1. Pingback: Career In Brief: Jawbox « Sweet Georgia Breezes

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