By Karum Cooper
Jaws, for me, have always kind of floated around nonchalantly in the list of bands that are making waves within the UK scene right now – though I’ve never looked to into them. Their 2013 ‘Milkshake’ EP pleasantly surprised me with its retro 80s vibe and its cutesy, carefree themes. Though to put it quite bluntly, I never saw Jaws taking this whole music industry thing seriously. Despite sporting an impressive national fan base and regular appearances at some of the biggest festivals in the UK – the Birmingham lads never struck me as going anywhere in particular.
‘Simplicity’ really shows how much these guys have matured since their first release. What caught my ear almost instantaneously was the improvement in production quality. Opening track and lead single ‘Just a boy’ launches with an exceptionally polished guitar riff – extremely reminiscent of a 1980s Smith’s hit, yet somewhat toned down, much more pristine and crisp sounding. It’s definitely obvious that lead singer/songwriter Connor Schofield has been heavily influenced by the likes of Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure and that nostalgic, undoubtedly British 80s Indie sound. The track really took me by entirely by surprise about 12 seconds in when this clean cut jangled chord sequence is interrupted by a fuzz fuelled lazy but right on time power-chord stab courtesy of lead guitarist Alex Hudson.
This was a really strong track and a great choice as an opening song for a sophomore LP.
My absolute favourite tune of this record was the first single to drop from the album. ‘What we haven’t got yet’ is probably the most uptempo tune on this LP, yet it slots in between two fairly held back indie-pop songs effortlessly.
The opening line “Seasons change // faster than the face // of the clock I’ve been watching” sets the scene for a verse that sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a nostalgia infused 80s teen movie and Connor Schofield’s melodic sense is absolutely on point here; with a melody that is the perfect amount of emotional yet somewhat feelgood at the same time.
Pre Chorus section really shows off drummer Eddy Geach’s surprisingly articulate and impressive skills behind the kit – the guy does not get nearly enough credit as a blisteringly tight drummer, though there are a few instances throughout the album where this becomes more than apparent.
Mid album tracks ‘17’, ‘Cast’ and ‘Interlude’ give the listener a break from uptempo pop songs and demonstrate the band’s more relaxed, ambient side. Here the use of ambience and several different types of reverb is really prevalent and expertly crafted. I feel like Jaws’ attention to detail and totally tech savvy writing styles aren’t given enough credit! Their use of effects (throughout the whole album) but in these three songs in particular is so well constructed. Whilst on this subject, I must mention the superb production throughout these 11 songs as well. I really hope Jaws album number three is produced alongside the same crew that worked on this record.
Many of Schofield’s lyrics really hit home in a way that’s really relatable and this is what helps bridge that gap between Jaws and their fans – like they’re all just adolescents trying to find their way around some kind of grizzly and miserable Britain. Despite this feeling of genuinity throughout many of the album tracks; I do feel like some particular lyrics really lacked feeling, depth and an important aspect of sincerity. It was mostly “Right in front of me” that really lacked a wholehearted message; it’s seems like a rambling of loosely linked lyrical themes – which as one of the lead singles from the record is more than disappointing. In addition to this – I really feel like the band could gain more from Schofield attempting some slightly new approaches to his vocal performances. Though he has perfected the drawn out, somber sounding, Morrissey-esque style – this gets kind of monotonous after the first 5 or 6 songs. It’d be very interesting to see some slightly new vocal styles emerging on future Jaws releases.
The most comforting part about Simplicity is that it’s just undoubtedly Jaws – 80s indiepop guitar lines flirting with fuzzy, grunty power-chord structures whilst Schofield’s Strymon Blue Sky holds down an shimmery wall of ambient reverb that seems to float throughout the entire record like a whole entity in itself. Though the band aren’t all nostalgia and 80s britpop worship; the four piece really made an effort to incorporate some slightly different and modern styles. Tracks like ‘Work it Out’ sound slightly similar to the funk-electro pop ethos of groups like the 1975. A sound which is becoming more and more admirable to the commercial pop market.
Jaws retain their title as the epitome of a trendy, fashionable indie band. Their attire on stage reflects this, but more importantly their music accentuates this is more ways than one.
Big things from Jaws here – constant radio play and press coverage is inevitable, it’s only a matter of time before these boys are catapulted into stardom.