For quite a while I was apprehensive about writing this review, we intentionally don’t pull our punches at the Jellyfish, not harsh, but if something’s bad we say so, and “I’m Still Into You“, the first track of this EP, is bad, and I don’t relish sticking the knife in.
Firstly, Lorin Jane Forster seem to bill themselves as a punk/pop band, which is a complete misclassification that’s going to do them no favours whatsoever, in reality they are a pop singer/songwriter and her backing band, which is totally fine, good even, but punk they ain’t, and the gulf between my expectations and the reality I encountered on listening to this EP may have skewed my perceptions slightly. I dunno, maybe I’m just an old fart, and punk isn’t what I thought it was.
So, this first track, after a lengthy (far too lengthy, this drummer’s clearly got skills, but what he needs to learn now is restraint) drum intro, the song launches in with absolutely heaps of, to coin a phrase, wrongness. the guitar is barely audible above the bass, proudly parping to no real effect, and then the vocals cut in, drowning out everything to their own detriment.
It’s sounds unfinished, like an early demo. Normally I really like a band to sound raw and rough on recordings, but there’s a big difference between garage rock grit and just being sloppily recorded. If they’d really gone for it with the dirt, but they might have arrived at a similar place to Harlem or The Replacements, scuzzy pop rock, and I could really get behind that. This, however, is just getting the mix wrong, and failing to tell the drummer to not spaff over everything. Turn the bloody guitar up LJF!
The tracks that follow are a lot better, well written, and recorded in a complementary way. Miss Forster has a very strong voice, and these songs show it off very well. “Exit Signs” is an old fashioned, lighters-in-the-air rock ballad, but with the cheese scraped off. Closing track “Last Goodbye” is a sad little acoustic number in a similar vein, and most memorable is thquasi-ska bounciness of “Last Thing On My Mind“, which brought to mind The Offspring’s The Worst Hangover Ever. However, in a lot of ways the damage had been done by that point. So that these more gentle tunes, which suited the production more, did little more than redress the balance of my opinion back to an apathetic neutrality.
This isn’t fair, but nor is life, and what it does, is hammer home for us the importance of two things. First, choose the opening track of your recording carefully, first impressions are crucial. Second, when it comes to releasing stuff, don’t go off at half cock, unless you are a snotty garage band recording yourself hitting bins with sticks on a 30 year old cassette recorder, keep the demos at home where they belong and hold out for the right production values.
I reckon Lorin Jane Forster might be a decent band, and I’d very much like to check them out live, where the loudness that I prize might have a chance to come forth, and enhance their songwriting skills.
Primarily it just seems a shame that this EP probably doesn’t do them justice.