Faith Healer's 'The Hand That Fits the Glove' Reshapes Pop Conventions

BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 11, 2023

"I'm so tired of playing the game," deadpans singer Jessica Jalbert on The Hand That Fits the Glove opener "The Game," her voice droning on one note in an expressionless monotone, swirling with phaser as she repeats the title into woozy oblivion: "The game, the game, the game." 

From the song's otherwise cryptic lyrics, it's tough to know if the "game" she's talking about is the rat race of the music industry — but, given the context around The Hand That Fits the Glove, it's tempting to take that interpretation. This is the band's first album in six years, in which time the duo of Jalbert and multi-instrumentalist Renny Wilson became seemingly inactive, abandoning any momentum they built up surrounding their excellent early albums, 2015's Cosmic Troubles and 2017's Try ;-). As of this writing, their website still lists a run of tour dates from the spring of 2018.

The Hand That Fits the Glove isn't exactly a grand comeback that's likely to make a big splash. It occupies a curious liminal space: its eight songs make it short for an album but long for an EP; it's not a continuation of their '70s-style pop rock, but it's not a complete departure either, with arrangements that veer unpredictably, as concerned with psychedelic production flourishes (a noodling horn here, an abrupt rhythmic switch-up there) as traditional hooks.

The bass-driven, funk-lite strut of "Another Fool" is the most straightforward song on Glove, but even better are the moments when Faith Healer lean into their eccentricities: "I'm a Dog" is a celebration of base animal instincts, its relentless churn making room for philosophical musings ("What is it about pleasure? / Why is something pleasing?") before Jalbert treats the titular metaphor as literally as possible: "You can try and wash me if I'm dirty in the yard / I'll get into the kitchen and I'll rip the trash apart / I'm a dog." Elsewhere, "Stranger" has the riff of a straight-up blues jam, but the layers of strange tones, unexpected breakdowns and chattering background voices quickly push it somewhere, well, stranger.

The Hand That Fits the Glove ambles along at its own pace, with songs that don't so much flip pop conventions on their head as they bend them a bit sideways, presenting familiar sounds with a well-studied wonkiness. They certainly aren't playing the game as music fans know it, but rather changing the rules and creating a new game of their own.
(Mint Records)

Latest Coverage