11 Sep 2014

Be Slowly / Jaws (album review)

When this dreamy surf pop quartet announced their debut album Be Slowly would be released later on that year, the hype around it was huge. Their two EP's released a fair while before the announcement of the debut were both received very very well and so great things are expected from B-town boys, JAWS. Alongside the announcement of the album and tour, JAWS released the title track from the album, and it has been cited as an /indie/ sound of the summer, despite the album not being released until now. So what do we think of this hyped up, synth pop, alt rock debut? You're about to find out.

The album opener is called Time and it starts of with a series of chords being strung out, before kicking off the album in the best way JAWS know how. The drum kicks in and the riffs follow suit as the song gradually builds up and up. Influences on this track sound sort of DIIV/Peace-esque, but as soon as Connor Schofield's beautifully unique voice kicks in, it sounds like a JAWS track all over again. It's not a high energy opener, but that's exactly why I like it, it sets you up perfectly for the rest of the album. 

The second track is the song that brought this band together. Cameron is a chilled out surfers paradise that again channels very early Peace vibes with a stoners twist on it. This was the song that Connor put a demo of online before starting up JAWS. Since then the track has grown and grown and finally reached its best form in good time, on their debut album. It's one of my favourite JAWS tracks and I am so glad it was put on the album.

Gold follows, and this is my all time most loved JAWS track. It's the first one I heard and has always stuck in my mind. The chorus lyrics "take me/where the gold drips from the sun/onto my back" are wailed over a conglomoration of chord progressions laced in FX pedals, catchy cymbal clashes and a thumping bass riff, all to form the perfect indie-pop chorus and in time, the perfect indie-pop song. Not only does it show off JAWS musical talents, but also just how well they can write rockier songs as opposed to a wishy washy stoners anthem.

Following Gold, comes the trippy experience that is Swim. Personally I feel like I should be donning dreadlocks and tie dye while listening to this song, but hey, that might just be me. The song itself has a lot of FX on it, but I think that's why it works so well. With JAWS style being quite specific, they risk getting boring quite quickly, but as they have developed as a band and grown up, they have learnt exactly how to use tricks and techniques to their full advantage. I have seen a lot of people saying Swim is their favourite song of the album and I can see why. I get a sort of 80's vibe from it, but an 80's song after it's been dragged through the 90's a bit and then rolled around in indie and dream-pop. It's a great track and a definite album highlight. 

Home is the next song, and this is more upbeat, more punchy, more rocky. The opening guitar has a note or two slightly off key which gives it an Nirvana sounding start, before throwing the listener back into the JAWS style we know so well. The combination of these two styles makes for a slightly darker indie track, and I really like it. 

The title track follows, and it's an exceptionally good one. The most dance-y, poppy, sing-a-long-y sort of song on the album, Be Slowly definitely shows off everything good about JAWS. Musical talents? The melodies, drum beats & riffs are flawless. Lyrical talents? Ok, so the song doesn't actually make sense, but it's an upbeat indie track, when do they ever? It's been stuck in my head since I heard it, and I love it.

Think Too Much, Feel Too Little brings the tone of the album back down to a chilled out vibe, and it's a song that you would listen to on the beach while sipping a cocktail. Totally feel-good and relaxed, totally JAWS-esque. The rhythms and the guitar are particular highlights in this song, as the melodies really are brilliant. 

Eight track, Filth, takes it back to the grungier side (as the name would suggest) with dirty bass notes and darker guitar chords taking over from the surf funk feel of the album and again it shows off their musical talents and abilities to work together as a young band. I personally prefer this style of music for JAWS, but the fact that they can do both is a huge advantage when looking at a unique selling point for a band. It also means they don't fall into a hole of surf-pop and get boring fast. 

JAWS channel multiple genres in a mellow and clever way that give them this stunningly individual sound, and this song is no exception. The next track, Sunset State, at first hear sounds almost shoegazey. The opening notes echo ones of a Slowdive song, yet as the rest of the instruments kick in, their familiar sound comes back into play, but there are various points in the song where the noise emulates that of the Cocteau Twins or even Ride. Once again, a very strong track which could easily stand on it's own away from the album. Next single perhaps?

Surround You comes next, and the FX are in full play on this one. Another personal favourite JAWS track, it's got a killer beat behind a ton of clever guitar tricks and punchy lyrics. The verses are fairly normal JAWS verses, but the chorus sounds like a raining down of piano keys. "Let the wind blow through your hair/send me crazy with your stare" is warbled over this magnificent sound before the bridge with a brief 3 second drum break builds you up for a final rendition of the chorus. Beautifully surfy and euphonious, it is a joy to listen to.

The album closer named NYE brings back the shoegazey element and is a chance for Connor to show off his vocals. His distinctive and mellifluous voice lays over the melodies in such a way that calms you down. It's a lot slower, and the rest of the band chip in with 'oooh's' and echoes to make it a perfect ending to a magnificent debut album. Very very well done lads.

Rating: 16/20

(written by Poppy Marriott)