As guilty pleasures go, Hologram Jams has plenty to secretly revel in.
Adam Kennedy 2010
There was always a peculiarly camp splendour ingrained in much-missed screaming Seattleite song structure-splinterers The Blood Brothers, much of it owing to one half of their dual-larynx attack, Johnny Whitney. Defined by his distinctive shrill, those flamboyant urges were further explored via his electro-rock side project Neon Blonde. Yet even that never matched the day-glo disco tangent trodden by Jaguar Love’s second full-length excursion.
Much has changed since Whitney’s post-BBs adventure proper unleashed 2008 debut Take Me to the Sea. Cody Votolato, guitarist and fellow former Blood Brother, remains. But Jaguar Love have swapped ex-Pretty Girls Make Graves drummer Jay Clark for a drum machine, losing a little more than simply a great sticksman, and Hologram Jams can’t quite equal its predecessor’s impact.
Still, the opening triumvirate promises much, ostensibly Take Me to the Sea multiplied by that aforementioned camp disco delight. I Started a Fire is all hands-in-the-air voguing, while Polaroids and Red Wine typifies an at-times gloriously disconnected hugeness custom-made for unselfconscious hairbrush-microphone bedroom moves. Is it synth-pop? Dance-punk? Trendier than the first, weirder than the last, possibly neither: let’s settle for synth-punk and be done with it.
Although elliptical, Whitney’s lyricism arrives slightly less enigmatic than that employed in The Blood Brothers. Indeed, sporadic retrogressive pop culture references come closer to hip hop methodology, at best the sound of carefree youth, at worst unfavourable next to, say, The Black Eyed Peas’ corniest lyrical abominations. Nowhere is that better illustrated than otherwise gumdrop-sweet Cherry Soda, its clunky exclamation of “It’s on / It’s on / Like Immigrant Song” hammy enough to make even Led Zep’s king of nonsensical cheese Robert Plant baulk.
Glossing over realisations that the second half begins to drag, Hologram Jams won’t appease anybody who rates music to decimal points or regularly orders their record collection alphabetically. Instead, it’s fun in the same manner as a night out necking Lambrini and cheap cocktails: saccharine, intoxicating, but ultimately shot through with a naffness that your sober self wouldn’t want to reveal in public. That’s okay, though, because as guilty pleasures go, Hologram Jams has plenty to secretly revel in.