Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Album Review: "Only" by Jenny Besetzt

Jenny Besetzt is playing w/ The Lollipops
Thursday, October 24 @ Kings Barcade in Raleigh
Within the past few years Greensboro has blossomed into a fantastic asset in the North Carolina music scene, acts like Braveyoung and Bronzed Chorus have helped kickstart the independent music scene in a town that's been ruled by oversized coliseum shows for years.  As the days go by it seems like Greensboro becomes a more and more lucrative stop, with local record store CFBG acting as a venue for names like Titus Andronicus, Ceremony, Dinosaur Feathers, and oodles of locals, the city is truly beginning to develop a sound that fits within the spectrum of North Carolina's scene.

Jenny Besetzt is the band that can spearhead this resurgence in the Triad, the band just released their debut full length Only, but the album feels like a comprehensive and fully realized vision rather than an exploratory debut.  Driven by tight drums and sweeping synths, the fuzzed out shoegaze of Jenny Besetzt is an addicting sound that serves as the perfect contrast to this ever changing fall weather we get in North Carolina.  You're likely to go from a slow brooding synth line into a guns blazing guitar riff backed by punk-esque drum beats in seconds flat, making this the perfect album to pop on your headphones to and  go about your chilly yet suddenly sweaty day...or maybe that's just me.

The bristling rhythms found within this album are one of the main reasons to check it out, these songs have the ability to turn around on a dime, making for an album that's incredibly joyous to listen to time and time again.  John Wollober's vocals are nestled snugly within the instrumentation, serving more as a vessel to evoke powerful emotions through warm melodies rather than words on paper.  However, those who value lyricism being displayed in the forefront will still get everything they wish for, as Wollober's lines instantly snap you back to the days of a blissfully ignorant youth whose world is slowly becoming more realized.

Album opener "Memory Maker" kicks off with a piercing yet distant synth line that gradually builds into a swirling mixture of nostalgia tinged pop, showing the band's excellent use of restraint.  Only is filled with peaks and valleys, emotional highs and lows that ultimately convey the message that this world is filled with harsh realities that we all must come to terms with.  Song titles alone can display the band's image, with tracks like "Hours We Could Have Spent Fucking With The TV On" and "They Were Full Of Brave Illusions About Each Other", they convey an emotional state without even playing a single note.

The joys of Jenny Besetzt is how wonderful all of their pieces come together.  No one element in this band shines brightest, but rather they work as a unit and play off of the strengths of one another.  The echos of ethereal guitars perfectly juxtapose the swift and driving rhythms of the bass and drums, creating a unique and instantly gratifying sound.  You can just as easily lose yourself in the subtleties as you can find yourself bobbing your head and dancing along to the upbeat tracks like "Always" and "Teenage Lion".  The album flows perfectly, these poppy gems seamlessly transition into slower, focused tracks.  On first listen I hadn't even realized that the album was over before I reached track two for the second time.  The final track features a few minutes of silence before a droning and dissonant melody rears its head, only to slowly return to silence.  This may lead to some saying these songs sound too similar and that there's not much diversity displayed on the album, but it's simply not true.  Only isn't an album to put on while you're driving, it's not served as background music.  Only deserves and commands your full attention, allowing the listener to find themselves lost within the cavernous confines of the dreamlike state these tunes induce.  If Only is any indication of this groups talent, then we can only expect incredible things in the future from this fantastic young group.

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