jrCORDUROY – I Don’t Want to Be Around When You’re Gone for Good

I Don’t Want to Be Around When You’re Gone for Good

Sometimes it amazes me that new bands even try to make music anymore. Sure, a successful career in the music business promises more money, fame, and admirers than you can shake a Fender Stratocaster at, but only a deluded optimist would start with those goals in mind. Knowing how few bands actually break through, just where do you start? How do you make a lyrical or musical statement that is in any way unique in the 21st century? In the end, you might as well aim high and shoot for the stars, trying to make that rare breakthrough piece of art that will elevate you to coming within grasp of your dreams. And while I think it would be a stretch to attribute notions of such grandiosity to the guys in jrCORDUROY, they have obviously set rather lofty goals with this release.
With about two-thirds of the album residing in the realm of slightly pastoral, atmospherically charged indie rock and the other one-third invested in more standard guitar heavy fare, jrCORDUROY seems to be a band in transition. The sturdy melody of the opening “Under the Color” with Mark Kraus’ distorted, slightly mumbled vocals recalling both the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the song takes on a dramatic lilt over a synthy backdrop. The following “Where I’ll Wait for You” sounds like a less bombastic form of emo, with shades of melodrama and heartbreak mixing with the loud guitars. Still, even when they come to their closest approximation of mainstream rock, they come across as somewhat tentative, and the remaining songs allow that spirit to flourish and become the underlying mood of the album.
Breaking out a bit of pedal steel to haunt the corners of tracks like the solemn “Would You Stay With Me” and the ghostly swirling tones of “A Secret Place,” the album finds a musical atmosphere that carries the depth of alienation and displacement in the lyrics. Finding that tenuous balance between the right musical mood and overshooting with the lyrical intent is something that all artists rightly struggle with, and here tracks like “Easy Way Down” (with its rather commonplace ruminations on leaving a party early and wondering what your girlfriend is doing there), and the strained metaphors of “Through the Windshield” come across as a bit cloying. Luckily, most of the songs feature such a lovely mix of drowsy vocals and naked instrumentation that you’re not likely to take much notice of any overreaching stabs at poignancy. The overall essence of the album is generally one of solemnity and earnestness, and most of the statements, both music and lyrical, are well rendered and believable.
Ultimately, the danger in attempting to make transcendent lyrical statements is that doing so is just about impossible and you’re much more likely to end up looking self-important than genuinely inspired. Here, jrCORDUROY are successful just about as much as they aren’t, which generally speaking is a pretty impressive end product (especially for such a young band), but their next feat will be refining their grasp of the art of understatement to make their musical moods come more in step with their lyrical ambitions. With I Don’t Want to Be Around When You’re Gone for Good they deliver sufficient evidence that such a breakthrough should be well within their grasp.