Apr 20, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala
Jackrabbit's path to existence is different enough from that of San Fermin's self-titled debut that it's worth noting. San Fermin began as a lonelier affair, written solo by Brooklyn composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone; by the time a sophomore record was in the cards, San Fermin was a touring band. This had to be at the front of his mind this time when he started writing-their second album has a lot more going on at once, instrumentally, on a track-to-track basis, leading to many moments of carefully-arranged chaos. Jackrabbit is certainly a wilder beast than its predecessor.
There was a small bit of turnover between albums. While Allen Tate—his smooth baritone is easily mistaken for the National's Matt Berninger—returns to handle the male vocals, newcomer Charlene Kaye takes over the lead feminine. She's put through a particularly aerobic performance, asked to jump all over her range in tracks such as "Jackrabbit" and "Ladies Mary." Like before, Ludwig-Leone seems to approach his vocalists as instruments, rather than pop singers; it's one of the elements that sets San Fermin apart from other baroque indie acts. The lyrics, though, are more memorable than the first time around. Album opener "The Woods" seems to describe a boy's disappearance in a forest; referencing witches, bones, and mud, it unfolds like a dark fairy tale, and sets a tone for the record that's jarringly sinister. There are many other similar moments—phrases and scenes that will linger in the mind when the music's over.
Jackrabbit isn't as smooth as its older brother: it's a heavier record, and demands more from the listener. It's not as easy to throw on as San Fermin's soaring debut, but it's every bit as strong. For those willing to pay careful attention, it provides a deeper, more rewarding experience.
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 10/10
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