A successful juxtaposition of the mundane and shocking.
Lucy Davies 2009-09-02
Cleverer and kinder than Lily Allen and more mature than Mike Skinner, finely hand-crafted reflections on English life is Just Jack's speciality. His third album, All Night Cinema, is no exception from expectations, the man born Jack Allsopp turning his tried-and-tested lyricism to new stories of normal folks with extraordinary happenings.
Embers betrays more than a little influence of 60s era Steve Reich minimalism, with a joyful multi-layered backdrop of violins, hand claps and electric guitar. It's a comforting and energising demonstration of group inconsequentiality, our actions so tiny they blow away like dust.
Doctor Doctor is a fraught affair, channelling sexual anxiety, while So Wrong is a knowing celebration of scams and karma. Goth in the Disco is an I Don't Like Mondays for all who have grown up trapped in the suburbs suspecting there's more to life than the provincial nightclub.
Lolloping, laidback The Day I Died initially seems Jack Johnson-esque, souped-up by a one-man-band-style backing. But it's far richer, recalling a seemingly routine but strangely perfect day of a family man working in the city on his fateful day. The album’s title track is slightly dull, though, as Jack reveals the variety of his dreams without ever going into any detail, but finding time to pick up a violin sample of Ralph Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending.
Instrumental effort Basement wouldn't sound out of place hidden away on New Order's back catalogue, with its Peter Hook-like bass line and old-school drum machine loops. The string arrangements continue, the album closer climaxing with lovely, slightly scratchy cellos, recalling album opener Embers.
Rewarding and wry, All Night Cinema is a successful juxtaposition of the mundane and shocking, rendered in high definition. Furthermore, Allsop's production skills and, dare one say it, classical knowledge smooth over the more synthetic sounds, giving depth to his subtle and astute observations.