Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul

Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul
Photo: Karen Moskowitz
It’s exciting to come across a record that contains songs that are instantly likeable and intriguing. If a record has one such song, it’s noteworthy. Jesse Sykes has several here, some of which demand a world in which they would be summertime hits of longing. "LLL” (like, love, lust) is filled with wiry guitars and chord progressions full of pomp that manage to step back slightly to make room for Sykes’s somewhat androgynous, sometimes raspy and occasionally Mercury Rev-channelling vocal talents. There are horns, harmonies, a piano and moments of rocking out, such as in "I Like The Sound” or the road trip-worthy organ buzz of "You Might Walk Away.” Mostly though, it’s hard to escape the effect of Sykes’s affecting, spooky messages of love gone wrong. She’s as believable and charming when she says, "sometimes you have to kill the one you trust” as when she admits, "this love is a feature/lost on us creatures so small.” The only complaint is that she could let go a little bit and have some fun with her voice. Just listen to her delicious 2006 collaboration with Sunn O)))/Boris for further proof of her many talents.

What’s the vibe of this record? I feel it’s a very loving record and actually quite hopeful. I’m obviously talking about issues like faith or lack of faith [and] questioning a lot of obvious themes of general human existence. I think even the title sort of implies a state of being. Obviously I want people to find their own meaning in it but I think it reflects a fragile human emotion and existence and some of the complexities of being human and being bound to a body.

How did your 2006 collaboration with Boris and Sunn O))) contribute to your work on this album? It opened that part of my brain, neurologically, that made me completely unafraid creatively. The experience of going in and putting the vocals down on the Sunn thing was really positive and it gave me a lot of confidence in how to approach my record.

What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned being a musician? I've discovered I have so much more strength than I ever gave myself credit for. [And] love. I realise I have so much love to give that sometimes it’s a little painful. The reason I do music is really just to connect with people. I want to write good songs and be considered an important songwriter, but really it’s down to this amazing connection and giving love, and receiving it too. (Barsuk)