Jucifer – I Name You Destroyer

I Name You Destroyer

It’s hard to imagine that Jucifer is just a duo. Live, you just get Ed Livengood on drums and Amber Valentine on guitar and vocals, and rumor is they deliver a kick-ass show. But on album, with the ability to layer their guitars, add in bass, cello, piano, and other assorted instruments, they sound like a time-honed band at the top of their game. If pure garage rock-n-roll is back in vogue, one needs look no further than Jucifer.
What’s impressive about this Athens, Ga. band is their unwillingness to fall into any set niche or genre. Their music dabbles in punk and hardcore, garage-rock and groove-inducing indie rock, all with a kind of gothic moodiness. Add to that uncommon mix Valentine’s gorgeous voice that can be all sex appeal one moment and a guttural growl the next, and you get a band that defies genres.
The moody, PJ Harvey-esque wash of noise that is “Little Fever” kicks off this album and leads nicely into “Amplifier,” the best track on the disc. Valentine’s voice gets all cute and playful, as the song flows over a groovey beat, funky keyboards, and some wailing electric guitar. Following the Breeders-esque “Pinned in Glass,” “Queen B” proves this band is all about energy and noise. A furious, noisy blast of pounding drums and screamed vocals. While not possessing the talent and intricate moody rock of the majority of these tracks, these heavy blasts of metal/punk are an interesting touch.
Much better are the band’s less intense but groovy moments, like “When She Goes Out,” which will be sure to have you dancing to those sultry but thick guitar lines and Valentine’s sweet voice. “Memphis” is another fantastic track. Starting soft over quiet piano, the rhythm comes in first, then thick, grinding guitar to launch this track into a fantastic, driving bit of urgent rock. The band’s at its catchiest on the head-bobbing rock track “Fight Song” and at its heaviest on “Dissolver,” a blazing punk-rock track that’s down and dirty, at least until the song’s soothing ending. Some unique percussion turns “Firefly” into a sweet, hip-shaking rocker, while “Lazing” actually uses some underlying scratching and piano to give it a bit of a down-beat feel. The six-minute grungy instrumental “Undertow” leads into the closing and more light feeling “Sea Blind,” a more pop-based number that still has a wall of electric guitars.
I Name You Destroyer may be my favorite pure-rock album of the year. For underneath their grooves, their metal guitar riffs, and their combination sweet and loud vocals, this band is basically a pure rock band. Sure, they rip out more riffs than your average six-piece and can go from a sultry croon to an outright scream in a second, but this duo never stops rocking. This is a stellar release with enough variation between songs to make you listen from beginning to end over and over again, and that’s a rare thing.