Hypervigilante is a good mindset to have when listening to The Jerfs. There are so many amazing details to capture on this album that it demands your attention. In ten songs The Jerfs take the listener on a journey through genres and decades of music, yet through it all they maintain a remarkable sense of consistency to their sound. Their traditional rock band line up is enhanced with thoughtful arrangements, solid instrumentation and the unbelievable chemistry of the two singers Amy Braun and Laura DiMonte.
The opening song Habit encapsulates enough themes of the album at large to serve as a perfect overture of what is to come. It is beautiful, it is sad, it moves unexpectedly and the vocals command your attention. Hear the bass guide you into Gaslight, an old jazz inspired tune, while singer Amy Braun croons with a voice of pure silk. From here the silk gives way to the grime with the late 90's inspired Dusty Corolla. Anyone who loves Sleater Kinney should check out this song as it reminds me of some of their best work (with vocals that dare I say are even better?). The history lesson continues with the doo-wop inspired Novacaine; definitely one of the catchiest songs on the album. Novacaine has this incredible breakdown when all the instruments cutout to let DiMonte and Braun hold out one desperate note before going right back into the chorus. It's little moments like this (or the swinging outro to Hostage) that make this album such a treat to hear.
Haunting soliloquy songs sew the first half of the album together so the listener can wander through the tracks without realizing where one ends and the other begins. The Jerfs take their time with the second half but they won't ever waste yours. Bad Luck, my favorite of the album, covers more musical ground in 6 minutes than you can hope for from an entire album from other groups. They begin with anguished harmonies over a lone ukulele before a lone guitar adds an edgier sound to the free flowing intro. This gives way to lighter, syncopated vocals while drummer Nic Burns pounds on the toms - a moment to make The Tuneyards proud. Finally the song culminates into a perfect hard rock outro with an unbelievable intensity and attitude.
I gravitate towards folk music and my tolerance for anything "heavy" can be quite mild. The Jerfs certainly have their heavy moments on this album but the songs are too good to ignore. This band has a fresh sound and they stick to it. The arrangements are perfect in an album that dips it's toe in many genres but always as The Jerfs. Check it out on bandcamp.