Friday, 28 October 2011
Album Review: The Juliets – A Perfect Season
You don't get an awful lot of indiepop from the US. At least you don't get a lot of decent indiepop. America is better at giving us 'serious' acts and it's probably why a lot of British bands struggle across the pond. Our bands have a tendency for self-deprecation and a sense of humour that can easily translate as being disposable. American acts meanwhile can seem a bit pretentious over here and British acts who take themselves as seriously as their counterparts over the pond are quickly shot down.
So why mention this. Well, The Juliets hail from Detroit and yet have moments on new album A Perfect Season that can only really be described sonically as indiepop tunes. But ones with a hefty classical influence. 'Chamber Pop' is no doubt how it's described elsewhere, but we're going to think of them as the American My Life Story. Only taking themselves a little more seriously.
It opens really well with 'The Loon' which through having an electric guitar at the front of the mix concentrates the attention of the song as opposed to the production. The additional layers add to the cinematic quality and it sums up all of what makes The Juliets an intriguing proposition. It is by a long way however the best song on A Perfect Season, if not the only highlight. 'Heart In Heart' recalls the arrangements of The Beach Boys whilst 'Hey Stars' and 'It's Simple' are epic and uplifting. Instrumental classical piece 'The Lost Memory' is also worth a listen as a complete counterpoint to The Juliet's song-focused achievements.
Here's the issue however. Unlike British bands who might have a similar sonic template (Belle & Sebastian for example) The Juliets seem a bit oblivious to the absurdity of it all. They know their talents but in being keen to highlight them can sometimes become a bit single paced and over serious. The title track is arguably the epitome of this on the record and whilst cinematic it lets the layers overtake the song and ends up a little bit too close to the middle of the road.
That's not to say it's fatally flawed however, what they sometimes lack in spontaneity they make up for in sheer scope. Cinematic is the key word, and if you like your pop to contain lots of intricate and tinkling piano parts and orchestral flourishes The Juliets will definitely appeal. It's easy to see the big break coming for the band when they inevitably get picked up Temper Trap style for a film soundtrack, and like the Aussies it'll be hard to begrudge their success when it comes. This is good and it's pretty, but whether you'd take it over My First Tooth is another matter.