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Jacob’s music is just so goddamn satisfying to me. This band just puts a giant-ass smile on my face; they warm my cold dead heart. Jacob capture so well that endearing, lovesick quality about rocky, strained romantic relationships and love-to-never-be that emo/alt-rock has built entire artists’ legacies upon. The Australian outfit carry this heartfelt, nostalgic vibe for older alternative and emo bands and for the genres at large, yet it always feels authentic rather than cheesy and phoned-in when it comes to the music that they make. Plus, these four dudes know how to write some really bangin’ tunes as well. All of which is clearly evident by the solid material found within their recently released second LP, ‘Show Me Some Passion‘, out now via Resist Records.
Similar to other Australian rock groups like Ceres and Slowly Slowly, Jacob’s latest release sounds like it was and could be lived in; it just sounds so homey and friendly and, perhaps most importantly, it sounds real. From Andrew Jago’s and Jamie Manny’s clean, well-voiced yet lightly distorted standard tuning guitar chords that buzz and soothe, to the added instrumental licks, the resonating full-band gang vocals, to the band’s energetic punk stylings that bleed through, there’s no bullshit or gimmicks getting in the way. Jacob sound totally confident throughout this new record – especially drummer Stuart Magill, who smacks that tight pocket hard on pretty much every single track. Yet even when their lyrical content embraces the highs and lows (though, mostly lows) of being in love and being without intimacy and companionship, it’s still all so charming. I mean, bands like Taking Back Sunday and Saves The Day didn’t get massive by writing hook-laden songs about their love lives going all fine and dandy, now did they? Exactly!
This album is full of bittersweet and yearning lyricism about love that once was and love that will never take shape; of trying to make things work out, and of hoping that things will work out. So no, this LP is probably not the best Valentine’s Day listen. Aside from this, the album is just really consistent and enjoyable; more upbeat in sound and tone than the mostly melancholic lyrics of these 11 songs will divulge. As ‘Show Me Some Passion‘ is a record that’s been made with real heart, displaying a knack for great hooks and memorable songwriting. From the happy-sounding Moog synths on ‘A Little More Action‘, starry-eyed synth lines that glaze over ‘Passing Slowly‘, the open hi-hat choked beats on ‘Say Anything‘, to even the brief xylophone sprinkles heard in ‘Coming Home‘, this Wollongong-by-way-of-Newcastle act are clearly having fun with what they’ve created. Even to the point where they’ve recruited Canberra’s Moaning Lisa to add some heavenly backing vocal harmonies during the slow-paced ‘Oh My Love‘ for a nice added touch.
Then there’s the hand-claps, trumpets (courtesy of Geoff Reid), and screaming backing vocals during ‘The Rain King‘; the racey, upbeat New Kids On The Block referencing ‘Baby, I’m A Blockhead‘; as well as the groovy and melodically infectious ‘How Long Until You’re Next To Me‘ which show-off that these guys are in a league of their own within the local scene. (Quick side note: this album’s version of ‘How Long Until You’re Next To Me‘ is slightly faster in tempo and has a new mix, but I must say that I do prefer the original single version instead). However, the NSW four-piece does know how to slow it all down to create some actual dynamic too. What with the pulled-back intimacy of the softly strummed guitar-vocal combo that defines ‘Special Kind Of Love‘, and the acoustic love letter that is ‘How I Get Sometimes‘, made complete by suitable gang vocal shouts and even some mournful twinkle horns too.
For as much as I like Jacob’s latest body of work, the main criticism I can level at ‘Show Me Some Passion‘ is the mix and production. There’s no big sheen of polish nor any giant bells and whistles here, just a band lively jamming out their new songs. In that sense, I can easily imagine that this LP is akin to that of how Jacob sound when they perform live. On one hand, it’s authentic and honest, and due to the music they play, Jacob adore that ’90s/early 2000’s pop-punk/alternative/emo sound which contains similar production styles. Which is totally fine! But on the other hand, some songs and certain sections here lack that extra punch and clarity required for them to “pop” harder; proceedings just gets a little bit messy. The album’s swan-song, ‘I Want To Get A Bit Closer‘, despite being well-written and having one of the better song forms of the record, suffers from this the most. This also pulls away the vocal intelligibility of vocalist/bassist Ruairi Burns, who for the most part, just oozes charisma and attention-grabbing vocal lines throughout the entire album.
Perhaps the end result here is down to time or budget constraints, or maybe just what the band themselves were happy with sonically speaking. But either way, this mix does sometimes muffle the fantastic songwriting skills this group displays. I feel that if Jacob could next time align this high calibre of songwriting with a better produced record, and retain that comfortingly relaxed vibe they nail so well, we’d be looking at one very special release.
What I love the most about Jacob’s music is just how honest it is, both lyrically and in how they create their songs musically. It’s all just good fun, plain and simple. If you’re feeling disenfranchised with the alternative/emo scene lately and are looking for a breath of fresh air, ‘Show Me Some Passion’ is primed and ready to be injected straight into your hopeless romantic bloodstream, so long as if you don’t mind an average mix and production. Yet even then, there’s no lack of passion amongst these 11 new tracks from Jacob, that’s for damn sure!
- Baby, I’m A Blockhead
- Coming Home
- How Long Until You’re Next To Me
- The Rain King
- Special Kind Of Love
- A Little More Action
- Say Anything
- Passing Slowly
- How I Get Sometimes
- Oh My Love
- I Want To Get A Bit Closer
‘Show Me Some Passion’ is out now.