Having just about finished mourning for Pretty Girls Make Graves and Blood Brothers, we couldn’t have been happier when we discovered that Jaguar Love were formed from the ashes of those two bands. Not that there’s much of a hint of either in what Jaguar Love do; if you’re expecting any similarities, look away now.
Jaguar Love are about as stripped back as it’s possible to be, and yet they make one hell of a cacophonous noise. They’ve got a secret weapon; mere drums and guitar are not always enough to create a full sound, but with Johnny Whitney on vocals, Jaguar Love never really needed to worry.
Screaming like a castrati who dropped the jar with his bollocks in on his foot Whitney is something of a revelation. High pitched doesn’t quite do it justice, suggesting that you were convinced for at least a week that a girl sang for Jaguar Love doesn’t either. Flamboyant and exuberant is yet another unsatisfactory way of putting it, but it’s as close as we can expect to get. If you picture him recording the vocals for this album, you can imagine him wearing a feather boa.
Take Me To The Sea has a distinct glam edge to it. This sensibility lies at the heart of Jaguar Pirates, and it stomps in stack heels all the way through Bats Over The Pacific Ocean.
There may be a bit of glam here, but there’s also a definite jazz belligerence in the guitars of Cody Votolato who often interjects and pulls the songs in a several different directions in the space of four minutes. The Mars Voltaesque freakout of Vagabond Ballroom is just one such example. It’s not unusual for a song to have undergone a radical transformation by the time the final chord is hit. This is no bad thing of course, it keeps the listener on their toes, and it rarely feels forced or indulgent. Some might find the changes from pop nuances to occasional atonality jarring, but to these ears it’s a joy.
It’s not as if this is a band that can’t produce winsome songs that are full of depth. Check out the seething keyboards and classic arrangement of Georgia , which manage to make a song that contains lines like “Georgia’s got a tumor in her throat” sound beautiful.
The great thing about this album is that it can supply you with immediate visceral thrills, and once you’ve given it time it will also stun you with the sheer depth of its sound and lyricism. Write off Jaguar Love at your peril; this is one of the best albums of the year so far.