Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Release: Project Jenny, Project Jan - The Colors [EP]

The Colors
The Colors [EP]
Might Records, 2009
Rating: ****** (6/10)

Project Jenny, Project Jan is a name I've been hearing more and more over the last few months, and hearing they were putting out an EP (basically a tide-me-over until their proper LP release), I decided to finally see what all the fuss is about.

At the heart of it, the two-man PJPJ is not my kind of music. Like so many other electro-indie-dance-rock hybrid, uber-hipster bands (yes, that's an official term for them), PJPJ are fun in a rather lighthearted way and while I like my music to be fun, I also like it to be more emotive than your typical party tunes. So on my personal scale of I'm-kind-of-embarrassed-to-admit-I-actually-like-this (e.g. MGMT, Passion Pit) to I'm-annoyed-that-people-who-make-such-annoying-music-are-allowed-to-live (e.g. Cut Copy, Crystal Castles), PJPJ falls somewhere pretty near the middle.

What's good about them is their wide variety of styles, which will probably earn them some Cut Copy comparisons down the line (and has already given rise to plenty of Beck references). The first and last tracks are not quite club material, but are definitely coming from an electro dance-pop point of view. However, the almost tribal "You Said" betrays a heavy "world" influence, while the vocals on "Caller ID" are simply old-school rap.

The world and hip-hop sounds and the masterfully restrained vocals give the band some emotional depth that their peers lack. And in addition to seamlessly cutting diagonal across every established genre they can get near, PJPJ has excellent arrangements with a close attention to detail. Their heavy use of guests adds intriguing vocal and sonic textures to the tracks. It's definitely music that draws you in.

Unfortunately, the EP is weak in melodies, mostly using trite, obvious lines or too-cool-to-sing monotones. The instruments don't provide a lot of hooks either, so there's just not much to hold on to. However, the widely varied tracks fit together coherently - The Colors is no classic, but it's definitely got enough things right to introduce the band's style and tide over its hungry fans until their LP release later this year.


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