Just Jack, a.k.a. North Londoner Jack Allsopp, is back with the follow-up to his breakthrough album Overtones, an album which spawned one huge single in Starz In Their Eyez. It was always going to be difficult to replicate the success of such a smash hit.
A bit of an outsider, Jack doesn’t really fit neatly into any category. This seems to have given his handlers something of a packaging problem. Who exactly does he appeal to?
The album begins with the most ambitious track, Embers, full of strings and grandeur. As he builds layers of vocals upon layers of vocals, it should but somehow doesn’t quite explode into life. But it’s a promising start and builds hope that he’s going to challenge himself and push his boundaries. There’s his signature lazy rapping style on the so-so Doctor Doctor, chilled atmospherics on the title track All Night Cinema, and indie pop musings on Lo And Behold.
But it all feels rather lightweight, from the words to the melodies to the instrumentation. While Overtones had a certain flair, the wordsmithery here is pretty bad. Current single The Day I Died is probably the worst example of this, with its nonsensical story of a boring day in the life of a boring man. The fact that the man’s dead doesn’t make the nonsense any better. But throughout, the stories are unengaging. There is little in the way of insight beyond the predictable, and a fatal dearth of laughs.
There are a couple of tracks that make for a not entirely fruitless endeavour. The tale of a fading romance on 253 (named after a bus that takes Londoners to and from Hackney and Camden) is a jolly romp, although perhaps a little too familiar if you’ve recently heard The Pigeon Detectives‘ Take Her Back. And he really turns things up a notch with addictive electro stomper Goth In A Disco. But again, if you’re gonna go that way lyrically, why not try to inject a little humour, rather than leave it trite and unimaginative.
Final track Basement dispenses with lyrics completely, even throwing in an unexpected string quartet at the conclusion of an otherwise energetic slice of power pop. It underlines that self-styled everyman Jack’s pushed things forward since Overtones, but without a single killer track, All Night Cinema is no blockbuster.