Will ‘Jaws’ upcoming album, “The Ceiling”, propel the trio to lofty heights?
Given that Birmingham band ‘Jaws’ appear to have been around since the dawn of time, it’s remarkable that they are only now approaching the release of album number three. While they have taken their time in releasing new music, the trio have kept their cult-fan base bubbling along nicely with a sprinkling of tour dates here and there. However, as beautifully energetic as “Gold” may be – new fan favourites are surely in demand.
Since releasing two highly credible albums in the form of “Be Slowly” and “Simplicity”, the latter released two and a half years ago now, ‘Jaws’ have clearly taken their time to perfect what will surely be a crucial album for them. Since the release of the EP “Milkshake” and “Gold” in 2013, ‘Jaws’ have been tipped for greatness – why they haven’t quite reached it yet remains unanswered. “Simplicity”, released November 2016, was a near exceptional album in my opinion. Brimming with purpose, it was exactly what you’d expect from a group of young lads with intentions of making it to the top. Additionally, it was incredibly well received by fans at the live shows: even the calmer, dreamier, tracks like “Work It Out” caused cascades of fans to surge forward and the slightly out of place circle to open up. However, in the present day, I’m still scratching my head as to why one of my favourite bands is yet to make it into the elite tier of British Indie bands.
After a two-year absence of new music, in late November the trio dropped the first of the album teasers – “Ceremony” by ‘New Or – I mean “Driving at Night”! I jest, but the similarities are immediate and striking. The switching around of the riff and drums won’t have many fooled, but I don’t think that will matter: it’s a perfectly credible song, and more than worthy to begin their album. After Connor’s vocals drop out in the middle-eight, the guitars crash back in with such purpose that there’s simply no suggestion that this track wasn’t written with the fans’ enjoyment in mind.
Unlike the majority of the album, “Do You Remember” feels like it was born from the “Simplicity” era. Guitar heavy, incredibly driven, with lyrics surrounding themes of keeping one’s mental state in check (“I always have to stop and tell myself it’s not a race”): it wouldn’t have felt out of place alongside introspective yet punchy tracks such as “Right in front of Me” and “17”. However, while the “Simplicity” tracks echoed the thoughts of a younger man coming of age, Connor’s vocals on “The Ceiling” feel a lot more adult. “Do You Remember” feels tighter and more focussed, with the vocals echoing a man less in a state of late-teenage muddle, but echoing the internal conflicts of someone who knows where they want to be but can’t quite get there.
In “Fear”, another album teaser single, Connor’s vocals are again simple, reflective, and almost conversational. “You’re stuck in my head like I like you there”, and “The sun sets with a cigarette” from “Fear” and “The crisp, fresh air runs through my hair” from “Looking Passing” are hardly earth shattering in terms of creativity, but a welcome and soothing change to the masses of bands forcing complex or political stances into their songs where sometimes they aren’t needed or perhaps even appreciated. When I first heard it, I deemed “Fear” boring, but since then I’ve found the dreamy atmosphere and simple melodies irresistible.
If you were to feed the entire ‘Jaws’ discography into a computer, the product would probably be title track, “The Ceiling”. An atmospheric, summery riff paired with open, reverberated vocals – “The Ceiling” ditches the slightly melancholy tone of being directionless, and replaces it with one of youthful positivity – in what may be one of their most accomplished tracks to date. “January” too provides some light relief in an album showcasing ‘Jaws’ darker and heavier sides. With distant vocals and an ever-present tambourine, a more stripped back sound is welcomed as the album comes to an end.
Upon listening to the album in full, striking comparisons emerge between “The Ceiling” and the “Milkshake” EP, released back in 2014. With simple choruses, soothing riffs, and an airy, baggy sound, “Milkshake” ended up being hugely well received amongst ‘Jaws’’ cult following – something evident if you’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing “Toucan Surf” live.
The Birmingham trio’s new album isn’t a million miles from the EP that earned them their loyal fanbase in the first place. I can’t say whether this album will rightfully place ‘Jaws’ amongst the indie elite, however there is no doubt that this will be a smash hit amongst ‘Jaws’ fans, old and new.