Jim James Uniform Distortion
Published Jul 04, 2018Our age is one of dislocation, as technology gives us the weird and unprecedented ability to divide ourselves: to be here and yet there. On Uniform Distortion, My Morning Jacket singer Jim James digs into this modern separation across time and space, with a collection of retro jams shot through with the fuzz and anxiety of the present.
Uniform Distortion shears off some of the unrulier arrangements of James' earlier solo material, in favour of structures that emphasize immediacy and intensity. For the most part, the album is distinctly nostalgic in sound, chock full of sugary backing vocals, driving rhythms and splayed guitar lines.
Against this sonic palette of yesterday, Uniform Distortion tracks a modern unease. In a recent statement, James describes trying to "get off the grid" because of the constant "distortion on society/media." These songs often recall how things used to be before this "grid" came to be, including the lo-fi "Throwback" that evokes "the way that it was / when we were young."
Such concerns about the pitfalls of contemporary life are well-worn and Uniform Distortion largely retreads these coordinates. The excitement of this music, nonetheless, is its undeniable kinetic energy, as James laughs through his lyrics and bounds over his riffs.
In Uniform Distortion's final moments, James finds hope in tomorrow, despite the disquiet of the present. "I guess I'll just keeping moving on," he repeats. On an album so resolutely focused on our current distortion, it's a welcome moment: opening out onto a future of clarity. (ATO Records)