Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: Mint Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
After journalists seized on a single aspect of the bio for his self-titled debut, the rap on Jay Arner was that he was "shy. " But towards the end of his stellar, infectious new pop masterpiece, Arner is actually giving out the digits of his "Personal Line," and taking your calls. He wants to talk.
Musician/producer Jay Arner is a sharp, efficient, exacting songwriter in the mold of fellow Vancouverites the New Pornographers. At his best, he smuggles expressions of despondence or alienation into airtight, earwormy gems with enviable ease. While 2014’s New Dimensional, the lone release from his Energy Slime duo with Jessica Delisle, traded in truncated bursts of psychedelic garage rock, that’s hardly Arner’s default.
With its midtempo groove, sweetly buzzy guitars, and vintage synth patches, "Back to School," the opening tune on Jay Arner's second solo album, Jay II, sounds like a great lost '70s pop single. The effect is strong enough that it takes a while for the chorus to sink in, where Arner declares, calmly but emphatically, "F--k all the rules/Feels like I went back to school. " That sums up the overall approach of Jay II, in which Arner offers us catchy and likable pop tunes married to messages that bite the hand that feeds them.
Vancouver's Jay Arner has put out a steady stream of releases since the 00s in various band-type projects, but working under his own name is a fairly recent change. On his second solo effort for Mint Records, he continues to forgo his former guitar-focused indie rock for a shimmering style of synthy indie pop prettified by backing vocals and other instrumentation by Jessica Delisle, with whom he also plays in the noisier, weirder Energy Slime. The most notable change in his musical evolution is in his singing, which these days has a relaxed, effortless delivery and the loveliest of gentle tones, heard most notably on opening song Back To School.