Review by Michael O’Malley
RIYL: Foster the People, MGMT
Track 1 – “As Time Goes”
Track 10 – “Break My Fall”
Getting picked up by a stranger driving a limousine into the sun while rolling on ecstasy. That’s the exact vibe that you pick up on from the opening of this album straight to the close – the opening ten seconds introduce you to a wonderfully trippy, rhythmic arena of sound that remains in effect for the album’s duration.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jr. renamed themselves to JR JR in July, and with a newly-released self-titled album, JR JR has, just months after rechristening, a unique, ambient sound that defines the group as a force to be reckoned with in the indie-pop genre. JR JR possesses this amazing quality of being able to put twelve songs together that sound distinctive from each other but yet, somehow, unmistakably dwell under the same roof.
Make no mistakes, JR JR is not a genius when it comes to lyrics or unique, distinctive beats; if you listen to enough pop or electronica, this album might sound like more noise than music. That being said, the band is clearly genius when it comes to arrangement and orchestration. The sounds itself aren’t particularly distinctive but the way they are meshed together, swelling in-and-out of each other in just plain interesting ways, hypnotize the listener with a beautiful serenade to the heights sound itself can reach.
When it comes to stand-out tracks, like mentioned above, each song has its own distinctive flow and rhythm to it, virtually guaranteeing that any music appreciator will have something to enjoy from this album; that being said, there are some tracks that necessitate recommendation. “Break My Fall”, for instance, separates itself from the rest of the pack by being a new anthem for teenagers across the world, with robotic-sounding instrumentals and vocals that replicate the rhetorical voice of someone sealing themselves off after realizing the misplacing of their trust, reminding the audience to stay guarded.
The other huge hit from the album is the starting track “As Time Goes”. I mentioned above that the first ten seconds of the album start you off on what is basically an existential chariot tour through the magic of what modern musicians can create, and it all begins with at this starting point. At no other moment in the entire album is JR JR more ambitious, more experimental, more trippy than this perfect beginning, throwing everything that makes a good song together. and instead of waiting to see what sticks, the band superglues it all together. “As Time Goes” is an incredible track that sets off not only a beautifully well-crafted album but sets the tone for the direction JR JR will be taking it’s long, long career in.