If the electronic/post punk sounds of the eighties still whisper in your ear or are a recent discovery for you younger retro investigators, then the excellent debut album from US band A Sky Jet Black will easily light some burning fires with their shaded glowing sounds. Japanese Moon like the band, is heavily influenced by new wave/post punk/gothic pop as well as according, to their bio, Berlin era Bowie/Eno/Pop, Phil Spector wall of sound girl bands and 8-bit. It is the post punk dark electro pop elements which firmly cores it all though as the songs weave their impressive charms, their breaths igniting thoughts and memories of numerous iconic British artists.
Formed in 2010 by Hope Iris and Karasene (both keys and vocals) alongside Tim-O (bassist, vocals, production), the band spent its first months honing and creating its sound before making their live debut at the infamous Monstrosity House at SXSW. The following years has seen the band in a hectic flurry of recording and touring, including supporting David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets). The Austin, Texas trio recorded the album alongside producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead) and have created one vibrant and mesmeric feast of warm and crystalline soundscapes posing as songs.
The album opens with the eager pulsating Be My, a song bringing the melodic charms of The Cure and Felt through the shimmering vocals of Siouxsie Sioux. It energetically wraps itself around the ear with a firm grasp whilst inspiring memories and dazzled passions, the sounds alongside the vocals of Hope a graceful impactful pleasure. Wholly infectious and fully enchanting it is a hypnotic start to the album, its nostalgic presence a perfect union with the heart of today.
The following Honey has a harder presence, a steely post punk surface to the again instantly absorbing melodic touch. The vocals have a slight Ian Curtis air bringing a Joy Division/The Passage essence across the icy yet heated emotive sounds. Its successor Sunday holds a similar gait but from a glowing New Order aspect, its brisk emotion teasing the electro pop of The Pet Shop Boys, though as throughout the album, shadows add the strongest voice to the romantic noir heart of the song.
Already the varied structure and sounds of the songs impress and ensure the release is never predictable even with the re-energising of well preserved sounds. The band also shows a wonderful ability to evolve things into their own distinct world as with the cover of The Stone Roses song, I Wanna Be Adored. Admittedly not a fan of its creators anyway, the song emerges as easily the better version from A Sky Jet Black, its sensuality and throaty bass veining the astounding contagion to leave one breathless.
As the seductive title track with its oriental kiss and cold beauty of Siouxsie & The Banshees/The Creatures, the kinetic Heart On Your Sleeve, and the brooding Out To Sea captivate thought and imagination, there is nothing but deep pleasure within. The second of the three songs especially hits the sweet spot with its early Human League like beginning and evolution into another New Order spiced piece of addiction, though the third with its Cocteau Twins/Chameleons teasing is equally powerful and deeply reaching.
The final piece of post punk sonic glory So Far Away, closes up what is a wonderful and enthralling album in Japanese Moon. With an album of beauty and darkness brought with provocative and exciting passion, A Sky Jet Black has taken us back in time but indie electro forward. It is majestic and an essential experience all should spare their hearts and time for.
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