Release Date: May 20, 2016
Record label: Tri Angle
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
With Radiohead season bringing out everyone’s inner conspiracy theorist, the re-emergence of Adult Jazz couldn’t have been timed better. Their sublime debut Gist Is was unashamedly literate, supported by choreographed music videos, snippets of cryptic prose and detailed mini-essays about its conceptual beginnings. Instrumentally, every note and flourish seemed to have been pondered over just as closely, deconstructed, shuffled around and assembled again like a post-modern jigsaw.
Following their critically acclaimed debut, Gist Is, Leeds-based quartet Adult Jazz made their way through the festival circuit, all the while touted by heavyweights like Bj?rk and David Byrne as a band to watch. Two years later, with the release of their follow-up Earrings Off!, the band have maintained their confidence and gone deeper, making for a release that revels in diversity and maturity.Earrings Off! explores the concept of gender: binary, idealization, embodiment, privilege and the weight these constructs can often unknowingly carry. It's a bold album, to say the least, with lyrics that don't sugarcoat but engage, yielding and providing space for thought provoking dialogue about sensitive and culturally relevant topics.
Leeds is the British town that gave us Malcolm McDowell, Corinne Bailey Rae, the Who’s game-changing 1970 live album, and a bunch of soccer players. It’s also responsible for one of the more unusual recent indie musical exports: the four-man band known as Adult Jazz. Following up their 2014 full-length debut album Gist Is with the EP-length Earrings Off!, the band may be comprised of adults, but their only real concession to jazz music is their near refusal to adhere to pop music arrangements or instrumentation.
After their ambitious debut album, Gist Is, English indie quartet Adult Jazz return less than two years later with Earrings Off!, an equally adventurous release that explores the topic of gender identity, stereotypes, and privilege. The clanking, creaking, fluttering title track kicks things off with bouncy rhythms and an unconventional, leaping melody in which lead singer Harry Burgess flits in and out of his falsetto. Like works by Talking Heads, Spoon, and Dirty Projectors, it's both quirky and infectious, falling into a poppy realm while even more boldly defying convention.
One of 2014’s most surprising debut albums came from a foursome based out of Leeds calling themselves, in a most fantastic and misleading fashion, Adult Jazz. Their album, Gist Is, was reminiscent of many art pop artists that came before, but still caught on with listeners due to its tonally challenging, vocally florid, experimental tracks. That adventurous streak makes any sophomore album a challenge, and instead of seeking repetition, Adult Jazz have progressed even further into uncharted territory with their new mini-album, Earrings Off!.
The British experimental rock group Adult Jazz has no problem cramming their music with ideas and lofty goals. In interviews describing their 2014 debut Gist Is, they name dropped Hermann Hesse, criticized religious institutions, and said that the album tackled everything from morality to empathy and the efficacy of communication itself. NPR even followed suit when reviewing the record, saying it was concerned with “the search for meaning in life.” Two years later they’ve released their sophomore follow-up, Earrings Off! a record that equally embraces the same theory-laden attitude.
Earrings Off! might not be the easiest of listens, but then it’s unlikely anyone looking for an easy listen will be plumping for an artist called Adult Jazz in the first place, let alone one whose music attempts to examine ideas surrounding body image, gender archetypes and liberation from masculinity. At its best, this mini-album aligns the London-via-Leeds quartet’s wildly experimental tendencies with a twisted pop nous that recalls Dirty Projectors, Björk or Strange Mercy-era St Vincent. The title track alone features squealing synthesisers, abrupt rhythmic changes and a melody line that gets unexpectedly pitch-shifted downwards.
Gist Is, the debut album from Adult Jazz was one of 2014's surprise highlights. An intriguing, complex collection of art-pop tracks it sounded like nothing else, with the band weaving labyrinthine musical yarns around us - switching from flourishes of horns one second to gently plucked acoustic guitars the next. Now comes Earrings Off! a mini-album which sees the band embracing electronic experimentation.