New Orleans debutants My Jerusalem are a band with no small amount of experience between them. Jeff Klein and Dave Rosser ran with The Twilight Singers, while Rick Nelson, Ashley Dzerigian and Cully Symington were members of Polyphonic Spree, Great Northern, and Bishop Allen respectfully.
And it would appear that such simultaneous freshness and familiarity has enabled My Jerusalem to craft an endeavour as vital as Gone For Good as their first full-length imprint: they’re a school of veterans revelling in one another’s new-found company, and this album is the tantalising result.
Indeed, it is something of a familiar opening gambit: Valley Of Casualties trundles gently alongside reverberating pickery before blossoming into an assertive chorus, and from the opening languid brass notes onward, it’s very much in the Polyphonic Spree mould. So far, so nice.
It is Sweet Chariot, though, that has made My Jerusalem such an enticing proposition from their very earliest days. Sounding not unlike Bellowhead with a new-found taste for punk, it’s a track whose unassumingness says little of the snarling anger ahead; and Jeff Klein’s venomous cries – “What you waiting for?” – are perfectly measured, and not merely shrieks for their own sake. Sweet Chariot is the spine-tingling, head-turning foundation on which the album is built.
Of course, the fact that such outbursts are few and far between lends them extra weight, and for the most part Gone For Good is a tad more refined. Remember Everything’s moonshine anthem evokes peaceful imagery, and the title track is molasses-paced, full to the brim with melodic regret.
There’s also Sleepwalking. Sat slap-bang in the middle of the running order, it offers genuine variety with its inch-perfect take on thudding bohemia. Its soaring choral passages and Klein’s two-tone, yelped and distorted vocals, in fact, channel Hawksley Workman‘s most electrifying efforts and capture his elusive, ragged brand of beauty.
As such agreeable tones settle into the listener’s brain, another roaring indictment pricks the ears. Bury It Low sees Klein again straining himself for his art, and could be – for its astute construction, grimacing overdrives and signature chorus – the anthem that launches My Jerusalem into the wider consciousness. It is, indeed, already gaining a foothold on the airwaves.
Certainly, though, when such comparative departures from an album’s mode are so attention-grabbing in their effectiveness, concerns arise about the rest of the material on offer. Is it just chaff compared to such wheat?
In My Jerusalem’s case, such worries are soon put to bed. Tracks like Shake The Devil bridge the gap between light and shade, and slow burners like Proposition are afforded the type of care and attention that allows them passage into the ether, fuelled by perceptive songwriting and a less-is-more approach to the soundscape.
Take lead single Love When You Leave. A tender anti-ballad on which Dzerigian lends her striking tones. Its timeless sentiments amount to little more than two minutes, but that is time enough, with such a deft touch, to say what is to be said and imply a great deal more. This is the case with Gone For Good as a whole, a sensational, Seldom Seen Kid-type opus that could be the making of My Jerusalem.