A couple of years ago, a friend recommended The Static Jacks, introducing it as a strong, solid rock band out of New Jersey. Those adjectives still adorn the façade of the group upon the release of its second effort, In Blue, out on October 1 on Old Friends Records.
And while the old descriptors are still there, the past two years The Static Jacks has spent touring and getting more comfortable with itself have produced an admirably reconstructed sound. Here, 11 tracks of simple, alternative guitar rock come out swinging, yielding no footing to modern electronic trends, and VERB standout tracks for the effort.
In Blue, though somewhat uneven in its composition, contains a handful of radio-ready tracks that could make The Static Jacks a big name in the world of alternative guitar rock.
Notable even among these standout tracks is lead single “Wallflowers,” which struts about like a mid-career Weezer sing-a-long, complete with crooning “oooo”s and a catchy chorus. The song, about accepting the affections of an overeager stalker, is fun and easily digestible—which, for the band, is a big weapon in its hunt for success.
“We’re Alright” very successfully offers a respite from the distortion of the rest of the album, showing the versatility of the group’s abilities. Its timid, pulsing guitar line, jittering on top of cozy drums and bass, blossoms into an anthem of youth that is both insecure and definite.
“Katie Said” is the best encapsulation of everything The Static Jacks does right. Playing with Pixian levels of high and low, the track tastefully weaves in and out of vulnerable verses and sweeping waves of sound in its chorus.
Not unlike Bleed American-era Jimmy Eat World, “Katie Said,” along with closer “Greensleeves,” has a cold confidence. They sound like backing tracks to the working-to-get-her-back montage in a coming of age movie.
But where there are highs, there are also lows. “Decoder Ring” is a relatively forgettable attempt at slow-churning pop, and “Home Again” offers little contrast from other songs of longing on the album.
What we see here is a monotony in the depths of the album that ultimately slows its progression. There are no bad songs, but there’s a repetition of theme and sound that is too uniform to allow In Blue to be named anything more than a decent release.
Like a faithful old car, or the band’s home state of Jersey, The Static Jacks is loyal in its dependability, even if such traits are paid with derision due to a lack of dynamism or efficiency (or, you know, too many pollutants).
This is not to say that The Static Jacks is a pool of stillwater, though; presented are 11 tracks of Jersey rock that fit the state’s rich history of music making, from Springsteen to Titus Andronicus. In Blue does lack that extra element of singularity that would allow it to reach the level of ubiquity other Jersey trailblazers have achieved, but still is a great trail head for The Static Jacks’ launch into the airwaves.
The Static Jacks - In Blue tracklist:
- “Horror Story”
- “I’ll Come Back”
- “Home Again”
- “We’re Alright”
- “Katie Said”
- “Ninety Salt”
- “Decoder Ring”
- “In Blue”
- “People Don’t Forget”