Published Aug 04, 2014As a band name, Adult Jazz is a pretty solid choice, and one that hints at the many contradictions twisted up in the music of this Leeds-based ensemble. On the surface, the moniker is playful and self-aware, yet underscored by the seriousness of the genre in question, and just absurd enough that it's impossible to read it one way or the other. For the most part, Adult Jazz's ethereal brand of avant-pop is just as difficult to nail down. It's harmonically complex, and the sinewy arrangements are peppered with bursts of brass and glitchy electronics, all of which seems like it should amount to something profound.
The free-flowing vocal melodies from falsetto-favouring singer Harry Burgess have been rightly compared to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, yet the chiming, un-distorted electric guitar lines and occasional bursts of post-funk drumming evoke the early efforts of Dirty Projectors. The nine tracks on Adult Jazz's debut, Gist Is, don't so much flow together in an album-length suite as meander along in an affront to traditional structures and obvious hooks, which makes for an interesting, if somewhat unsatisfying listen. Standout tracks like the soul-inflected "Springful" and the catchy "Idiot Mantra" suggest that Adult Jazz know how to maximize the potential for earworms here, but otherwise, the lack of drama — sonic, emotional, or otherwise — trips up any momentum gained with these songs. At the very least, Adult Jazz have birthed a unique sound, but musically, Gist Is only plays at being all grown up. (Spare Thought)