Words About Music
Adult Jazz “Gist Is”
A quick internet search did not warrant a ton of information on Adult Jazz. I know that they’re from Leeds and I know that they make complicated art pop that combines the eclectic vocals of Alt-J and Wild Beasts, the off-kilter rhythms of Dirty Projectors, and the pop deconstruction of early Animal Collective. The songs here are lengthy, jagged, and pretty much as un-pop as pop music can get. While the sounds are scarcely unfriendly to the ears, the music as a whole is strange and tough to dissect. “Gist Is” is a very creative exploration and it’s a certainly compelling debut, though it’s not without its flaws.
The thing that makes the bands I previously mentioned so interesting and great is that their music, while notably experimental and eccentric, is also incredibly catchy and wouldn’t be out of place on the radio in an alternate universe. While Adult Jazz shares characteristics with these bands, the group warps and twists pop sensibilities and tropes to the point that a lot of it tends to feel jumbled and over-the-top. “Gist Is” is loaded with ideas that I think the band could have worked to execute with more patience and thought. At times, “Gist Is” feels overwhelming, and it has nothing to do with the length of some of the tracks. The 10-minute centerpiece “Spook” is probably my favorite song on the album because it’s tasteful and incredibly well-written. At times, the band sort of reminds me of latter-era Talk Talk, though Adult Jazz doesn’t feel as organic as Talk Talk’s later albums do.
Adult Jazz is not a band that appears to need to be accessible. The odd and seemingly random instrumentation is characteristic of a band that writes music to please themselves, not a specific fanbase. “Gist Is” is a confident debut album, but I don’t think it has quite enough identity to sound as figured-out as it does. Don’t get me wrong, this album is well produced and fascinating. Adult Jazz could very well have it figured out with this formula and it could serve them well in the future.
If you’re looking for a challenging record that takes Alt-J’s friendly experimentalism a step further, definitely give this album a listen. You might just love it! Adult Jazz is a promising band that has managed to incorporate several sounds and textures into what could be the future of indie pop. It’s not danceable, it’s not very rhythmic, and the lyrics are gibberish when you can understand them, but it is a well-produced series of songs that substitutes normalcy for humanity.
SCORE – 7.4
FAVORITE TRACKS – Hum, Springful, Donne Tongue, Spook, Idiot Mantra, Be a Girl