Uppsala, Sweden’s Jeniferever methodically orchestrate layers of rich sound. The meticulous feel of their new album, Spring Tides, persists even when the music shifts through formidable layers of noise and sonic entropy. This album is a stirring blend of ambient and post-rock, with swaths of shoegaze and dream pop.
Formed 1996, Jeniferever channel a lot of their native country’s beauty and dark winter through their guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, and vocals. Throughout Spring Tides, this 4 piece plays skillfully with an organic mix of melody and tension. Opening track “Green Meadow Island” pushes measured electric guitar strings chiming over soft, doleful vocals. But after 3 minutes the song explodes in orchestral dissonance, a lead electric guitar shooting through the bedlam before quieting again and dying in an extended fade out. Other songs on Spring Tides go this same route, segueing from ambient rock songs to post-rock climaxes; shimmering synths and guitars build to soaring guitar leads, agile, cymbal-heavy drumming, and a cacophony of synthetic sounds that invite everyone to turn up the volume. Some of those climaxes are mild, some are mountainous.
The 6-plus minute “St. Gallen” starts as a piano piece with elusive synths hovering the background. Then appears a flimsy, fuzzy guitar and relaxed rhythm section. Four minutes into the track this meditation is broken by the vocal, and the singing is layered when the song tenses with rising volume. Jeniferever’s vocals vary from melodramatic to doleful, to listless to contemplative, a cross between The Cure’s Robert Smith and The Thrills’ Conor Deasy.
One of Spring Tides‘ less successful tracks is “Lives Apart”. Beginning with an acoustic guitar and skipping high hat with syncopated snare, the music’s relaxed, melodic tones and sleepy accents ring out above watery keys. Aside from the more lush moments of cascading ambience, this track just doesn’t have what it takes to endure 7 minutes. But the album does plenty to make up for its few indulgences.
“The Hourglass” is another early standout. Abandoning the slow introduction favored by the album’s other 9 tracks, this song opts instead for a steady, quickened bass line. Small guitar accents glow in the front and back of the mix. Like a song from The Cure’s catalog, the music’s vulnerability and repetitive form, relative simplicity, and driving rhythm compels listening. Some high-end guitars chime out while a lead guitar takes a front seat alongside the still driving bass line. The song’s climax comes when the ambience crowds in, adding a dreamy layer of confusion and darkness. This aural claustrophobia is a little disorienting, but the crestfallen singing from the back takes that edge off. “The Hourglass” is a powerful and effective song.
The over 8 and a half minute closing track (and title track) “Spring Tides” begins familiarly with a soft rhythm section, unobtrusive ambient synths, and light guitar accents–the soft side of post-rock. We are finally spared this peace when drums pick up the beat, adopting a march tempo as the other instruments go silent. Ambient keys float dreamily by, then seem to multiply and take an identity of their own, no longer content to be window dressing. By 4 and a half minutes the song has taken an entirely new form, a reinvented character blurring the line between rock song and ambience. But then the chorus demands attention, firmly rooting itself in rock with a bottom heavy bass that gathers steam for the goodbye. But the big moment never comes. Instead, everything just sort of walks away.
Spring Tides is a success partly because it is consistent in sound and structure, but it still manages to slip through a variety subtle mood changes and elicit several emotional reactions from its listeners. Jeniferever should gain some fans with this.