Published May 18, 2016Following their critically acclaimed debut, Gist Is, Leeds-based quartet Adult Jazz made their way through the festival circuit, all the while touted by heavyweights like Bjӧrk and David Byrne as a band to watch. Two years later, with the release of their follow-up Earrings Off!, the band have maintained their confidence and gone deeper, making for a release that revels in diversity and maturity.
Earrings Off! explores the concept of gender: binary, idealization, embodiment, privilege and the weight these constructs can often unknowingly carry. It's a bold album, to say the least, with lyrics that don't sugarcoat but engage, yielding and providing space for thought provoking dialogue about sensitive and culturally relevant topics. On first single, "Eggshell," they sing: "I stuff my courage with a sock, I stuff my courage and I know what's going on, and now the language is stuck, maybe the language doesn't know what's going on," confronting the way that the many facets of society, including language, stifle self-expression.
Their lyrics are combined with an expressive and inventive soundscape that often juxtaposes the two: the musical frequently borders on frivolity, but it's anchored by the heaviness of its content. Consisting of four full tracks and three shorter movements, the album easily moves between experimental arrangements, meaningful lyricism and distressed interludes. "(Cry For Coherence)," for example, is one big grating yet seamless oscillation between vocals and strings, and while it borders on irritating, it's also fascinating to hear vocals mimicking their counterpart (strings, in this instance) and vice versa.
Earrings Off! is an album that demands multiple listens and gets better with each one. (Tri Angle)