Dresden’s Jaguwar have been around in some shape or form since 2011, beginning life as the infinitely more interestingly named The Artbreak Heartshop, with the band harnessing the strengths of the dreamy shoegaze movement that subsequently produces “hazy, loud, fuzzed doom monster pop”. In a much covered genre, this could mean a multitude of things, but think Robin Guthrie’s Cocteau Twins-esque guitaring – after a healthy dose of speed or any other stimulant – plus a hint of post-punkers The Cure.
A couple of EPs arrived in 2015 and 2016, simply called I and II, highlights perhaps being the My Bloody Valentine influenced Muffhead from I and the immensely enjoyable noisefest Initiate Contact According To The Sound Of Your Heart from II. Disappointingly, the MBV comparisons wane a little these days, although occasionally the blissed out dreaminess does succumb to the odd excessive instrumental onslaught, but things are certainly refined and trimmed.
In 2017 the band decamped to the Tritone Studio in Bavaria to lay down their debut long player, Ringthing, and tracks veer somewhere between slower, dream-based sparkle pop efforts like a cocktail of Mazzy Star meeting Wolf Alice, and a generally faster tempo blend of shoegaze rock meets noise rock.
Single Crystal is a keeper, male vocals in the style of Robert Smith competing for attention with a bubbly, shimmering guitar backdrop for a sparkly pop gem before a glistening wall of shoegaze effects float the track to its conclusion. Following an oft-used melodic formula of ‘repeat three times before deviating on the fourth’, this time via a tinkly guitar, Night Out then dazzles similarly, punctuated by a bassline evoking memories of a subdued Peter Hook amid frantic drum rolls, before soaring in another blissful climax.
Away provides the best example of what can be achieved when both male and female vocals are mixed, the pounding bass providing a pulsating beat whilst the screeching guitar sections of Week will leave your ears ringing in between its poppy, sugar-coated core. Of the slower numbers, the delicate Whales provides the dreamiest moment of the album, although something may have been lost in the German-English translation during the repetitive emphasis afforded to lyrics of “when you go down”.
Arguably though, the two best moments of Ringthing occur early on. Opener Lunatic moves from spindly, spidery guitars to breakneck speed drumming in the blink of an eye before a dreamy wall of sound leads to a stunningly explosive finale. Even better is Slow And Tiny, which is anything but what the name suggests. Warped male vocals twist and turn amongst more blistering drum rolls, building a monster track that develops into a cataclysmic conclusion of doom in such an impressive way that it’s clearly indicative of where the strengths of the band lie.
There’s nothing particularly original about Ringthing, although it is a little surprising to hear such a mesmerising offering coming to us from Germany in such a UK swamped field. Heading back in the direction of their louder MBV influenced roots, married with their clear confidence in producing dreampop, could be the way to go to produce something more unique .Because when the noise comes, it comes in spades – and it’s simply irresistible.