Swedish four-piece Jeniferever, their name taken from the Smashing Pumpkins track Jennifer Ever, bring us their third album Silesia. The first, 2006’s Choose A Bright Morning, was described on this site as “simply stunning”. How will number three compare?
On much of the album, the band’s big, big sound is to the fore. Particularly on opening track Silesia, The Beat Of Our Own Blood and Deception Pass the feel is epic, the instrumentation lush. Combine this with a propensity for long tracks – the opener and particularly the closing track Hearths, which clocks in at over nine minutes – and you would expect something intense, heartfelt.
And quite why this isn’t what you end up with is not altogether clear. Certainly the vocals don’t help. Singer Kristofer Jönson has one of those voices that veer between slightly breathless (Silesia), slightly limp (Waifs & Strays) and frankly rather mawkish (A Drink to Remember). Only on the Pumpkins-like Deception Pass, where it rouses itself to a convincing portrayal of angst, does any real emotion come through. Another unfortunate feature is that his voice makes lyrics very difficult to discern: there are whole swathes of this album where the listener is oblivious to what the band are actually singing about. A shame.
Although there aren’t many actual melodies that emerge, the most memorable tracks are those that make use of the band’s undoubted talent for producing interesting, irregular and complex rhythmic patterns. Waifs & Strays is probably the best example of this, with an almost math-rock feel to it; but Where The Hills Fall Towards The Ocean and Dover are also clever and intricate. The latter in particular finally features some audible words (“We hold tight to the ghosts and the stories / We do everything we can to keep them alive”) that fit with and enhance the tight pattern of the song.
More frustrating are the vague, somehow diffused and distant-sounding numbers. The Beat Of Our Own Blood (limp, flimsy), A Drink To Remember (slow, somehow unmoving) and Cathedral Peak (unengaging) are the worst offenders here.
To the last track then, the aforementioned, overlong Hearths. Clearly intended as the album’s grand finale, it starts well with lovely heartbeat-paced drumming, referenced in the lyrics, and the nice evocation of “Whispers in hallways / Creaks from the stairs”. Somehow though, the expected drama or crescendo never quite arrives, and we are left with an overextended auditory shrug, sadly emblematic of the rest of this strangely unsatisfying album.