TITLE: THE CEILING
WORDS: JACK MOBLEY
‘Dream-pop’ is an interesting sub genre that Birmingham trio, JAWS have labelled themselves but it does give you a good indication of what you can expect from their latest album ‘The Ceiling’. Swirling soundscapes created by a beautiful guitar tone and daydreamy vocals that has Reverb draped over the entire mix. The first release in three years for the band, ‘The Ceiling’ incorporates elements of shoe gaze and indie while showing a harder edge than we’ve become accustomed to on Sophomore release, ‘Simplicity’.
This record has a mix of bright and dark moments that is best enjoyed while roaming around a big city at night; walking past bright signs and lights while inspiring feelings of loneliness, surrounded by the metropolitan madness that makes you breath in the music even more. This is what the album is intended for as lead vocalist, Connor Schofield, talks about the album following the general theme of single ‘Driving At Night’ saying, “I wrote it while thinking a lot about my hometown of Birmingham and I think it sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the record.”
“a mix of bright and dark moments”
The album kicks off with this lead single, ‘Driving At Night’ and from the opening line and riff you can begin to familiarise yourself with what ‘dream-pop’ is. Greeted by a looping guitar line that has the space to breathe, while Schofield’s lulling vocal makes for a relaxing yet somewhat uplifting and catchy tune. The rhythm section has chance to shine on ‘Feel’ with snappy drums and a bellowing bass after Schofield’s introduction before the song takes on a more traditional pop composition with the looping vocal hook ‘I know, I know, it’s the way I Feel, Feel’.
However, that is all left behind on ‘Do You Remember’ as the distortion pedal is stomped and a grunge-indie inspired riff fuzzes into existence. The band let loose more than ever before and the raw sound gives them the license to do so. This rough edge is where the trio shine brightest as a group and is certainly a highpoint on the album. The same can be said for the latter moments of ‘End of the World’, where the guitars are thrashed and drums crash.
The mood takes a poppier turn in the following tracks ‘Patience’ and ‘Looking/Passing’ but is still laced with darker tones and Schofield’s delivery is certainly moodier with his monotonous tone. This is an interesting combination that has flavours of indie favourites, Foals mixed in with Sonic Youth and a sprinkle of shoe gaze to bring it all together.
” a classic rock dream packaged in a modern outfit.Parts of ‘The Ceiling’ shows the harder edge that harks back the first release, ‘Milkshake’, while maintaining the ‘classic’ indie sound that has established them as an outfit.”
The tail end of this ten-track record does have the same vibe but by this point it is hard to stay engaged. When an album has so much reverb and shoe-gaze elements with no bite, the music can wash over with no lasting effect. ‘Please Be Kind’ attempts the big and thumping chorus but lacks the bass and distortion to make any impact. While the title track falls flat and is lost in all of the reverb and production. Final track ‘January’ does have a nice bass line and the acoustic nature of the song does provide a very mellow aesthetic but the vocals are deliberately washed out which dampens the song entirely.
The album is very simply laid out with it’s track-listing; a very heavily loaded front end that has energy and riffs but then there is a gradual decline after the midway point that slopes to end with no energy or drive. Parts of ‘The Ceiling’ shows the harder edge that harks back the first release, ‘Milkshake’, while maintaining the ‘classic’ indie sound that has established them as an outfit. The album shines when the trio are allowed to let loose but they lose that cutting edge in the tracks when that energy is absent. Instead they showcase a sound that becomes washed out, which can be the trap that bands falls into when they opt for a reverb sound.