New Jersey’s Static Jacks released their debut LP If You’re Young in 2011. Garnering a few solid reviews, it was overall a straightforward garage rock album that was easy to enjoy and acted mostly as a straight blast of adrenaline. Their live show backed it up, and it wasn’t a stretch the call them the best band to come out of the Garden State in quite some time. Unfortunately, the genre itself had been on the commercial decline for a while at that point and is still even now, so it’s no surprise that a great debut from a ‘rock’ band didn’t make the impact it should have.
In 2013, they make a point of growing up a bit with new record In Blue, and their slightly tweaked sound might suit them even better than the indie punk outfit they wore on their debut. For one, this album sounds far fuller then their LP prior, and honestly makes it sound ‘scrappy’ in comparison. That’s likely on account of Andrew Maury (RAC, Tegan and Sara, Ra Ra Riot) handling production duties, as he did on the excellent Spray Tan EP they released last year.
There’s a sonic comparison to be made with Cage the Elephant here, but instead I’ll say that they’ve definitely taken a few Pixies cues in terms of tone and dynamics. “Wallflowers” makes the best use of the loud-soft structure, and was an obvious choice for a lead-off single. The best thing about these songs compared to older tracks is that the band seems more comfortable in slowing down the pace and letting the music breathe a bit. “Home Again” is a nice example of this, keeping a brisk tempo yet still coming off as nothing but relaxed, even during its big (mostly) instrumental chorus.
While If You’re Young had a fair share of British indie rock comparisons, they aren’t really present here. “Ninety Salt” makes good on the opening track’s hook, coming off as the most epic song the band’s recorded and another obvious choice for a single. “Katie Said” is another standout cut, and feels like the 80’s without necessarily sounding like the decade itself. They’ve gone for that reverb-drenched effect before, but this might be the most well-written song they’ve done in the style and really shows off some range in terms of what the Jacks can pull off. Penultimate track “People Don’t Forget” even has some piano laced through it, and another catchy chorus to get stuck in your head before “Greensleeves” closes the record, sounding like a shinier Titus Andronicus with a better sense of melody.
Now it’s time for the big questions. Will this record be commercially noticed in an electropop filled 2014? Will rock and roll be reignited and overtake dubstep? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a great album from a band that deserves to be listened to by far more people. The Static Jacks found their sound a while ago, and they still just keep improving on it. Let’s see where they go next…