With their likewise eponymous album, the members of Atlanta, GA rock band Jupiter Watts have perfected a blend of Britpop-style psychedelic bravado and new millennial indie pop softness. Striking a balance between Oasis and The Changes, The Stone Roses and Death Cab for Cutie, this new record is a stunning collection of pop mastery, intricate musicianship, and classy jams.
Album opener “Felix” begins with a quick pace and a morose atmosphere as co-vocalists James Trigg and Ramon Wals play off each other. It’s a gorgeously somber pop song to kick off with, and it sets the schedule for the album nicely.
The Britpop slant of the album comes out more fully on track two, “Crown.” The drums are a bit funkier and Trigg’s vocals are a bit snottier, but it’s still just as satisfying a track as “Felix.” Recalling the ol’ Gallagher brothers at their cockiest, the song is only 17 seconds longer than the previous one, yet incorporates far more flourishes, reaching a frantic, sax-laden crescendo that feels epic and monumental while still ending under the 4:30 mark. The listener gets all of the urgency of Be Here Now without any of the boredom and self-indulgence of… Be Here Now.
Track five, “The Cloud,” sums up the album’s dichotomy perfectly. Instrumentally, it hearkens back to early Death Cab for Cutie gems like You Can Play These Songs With Chords and Something About Airplanes. But the vocals and drums have just a scootch bit more cajones, skewing towards Sgt. Pepper pseudo-psychadelia.
Jupiter Watts starts a down-tempo fallout with “On the Water” and “Hello,” but quickly reasserts itself with the oddly Sonic Youth-y No Wave of “Hit the Ground.” But the song isn’t nearly as drastic as one may think – Jupiter Watts still pack it with melody and ambiance. This song and “Our Lesson Learned” serve as a thrilling conclusion.Overall, Jupiter Watts are a great band with a delicious sound. While the areas they cover are well worn, there are few bands that travel them so well. Alternately sensitive, danceable, and crushing, this self-titled release is one of the best rock records of 2007.