Music review by Richard Lewis 26/4/2011
Named after a Smashing Pumpkins track, Swedish four-piece Jeniferever have slowly built themselves a niche of purveyors of the same glacial slow motion soundscapes Sigur Ros excel at. Emerging in 2006and creating a reputation as guitar-band-as-cinematographers, their tracks progress in a beautific glide, the band weaving intricate guitar motifs that burst into full bloom with the arrival of synthesized strings that lift the songs onto a higher melodic plain.
Whilst undeniably bearing some sonic similarities to Sigur Ros, the Swedes are markedly different from their Icelandic neighbours vocally and lyrically. Less ethereal, the present band eschews the equal parts English, Icelandic and invented ‘Hopelandic’ words of Jonsi Birgisson. With his plaintive, straightforward English vocals, Kristofer Jonson sounds strangely like Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody at points, utilizing a formula of half-whispered verses that build to the emotional release of the choruses. Such traditional songwriting practice as switching between verses and choruses may sound slightly incongruous for the current band, yet Silesia proves to be Jeniferever’s most immediate and cohesive effort to date.
That said, the band still retain some of their opaque aspects, opening with the six minute plus title track, possibly the slowest track on the collection. ‘Waifs and Strays’ the album’s lead-off single, which follows next, is more direct whilst ‘The Beat of Our Own Blood’, a subtlely brilliant distillation of their sound crammed into the space of a four minute pop song, sounds like a sure-fire hit single (back when guitar bands used to enjoy such things.)
Lumped in with several bands considered to be nu-shoegazers, Jeniferever despite employing three guitarists at times have less of the saturated tones of Wooden Shijps and The Big Pink, the band largely sticking to arpeggiated melody lines as opposed to massively reverbed chords.
‘Deception Pass’, described as possibly the band’s heaviest song yet evokes an angry sea, thundering out of the speakers not unlike Billy Corgan’s mob crossed with early U2. Topped with a vocal akin to mainstream US rockers 30 Seconds to Mars, the track could well be the one that finally secures them a place on MTV America. Elsewhere, ‘A Drink to Remember,’ and ‘Cathedral Peak’s desolate arpeggios and understated guitar riffs intertwine gorgeously, bolstered with synth and keyboard lines.
Hailing from same town in Sweden as the superlative Radio Dept, Jeniferever have the same atmospheric sheen to their tracks as their fellow countrymen minus the shorter song structures and poppier elements that has seen the Dept expand into the mainstream. Here, ‘Dover’ sounds the most similar to their Uppsala contemporaries, its understated melodic approach producing a winning pop song. Also recalling US slow-core merchants Slint and Low at times with their gently rolling guitar soundscapes, Jeniferever are less desolate than either of the two bands, the drumfills of sticksman Fredrik Aspelin keeping the song’s tempos clipping along.
Concluding with the nine-minute ‘Hearths’, which miraculously doesn’t outstay its welcome, featuring the only double-tracked vocal on the record, the LP draws to a close on an uplifting note. Despite the slightly strange sequencing on display, (the opening track would have been better shunted to later in the running order and there are breaks in the moods established by some of the songs), Silesia is largely a triumph. With its noon-bright tone and melodic immediacy, Jeniferever more than deserve to win over new converts, their developing commercial sensibilities combining effortlessly with their cinematic musical vision.
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