Jackson MacIntosh has been staying busy over the past few years between stints in TOPS and his repeated work with Sheer Agony, so it’s a wonder his solo record was even made. Through the album a diverse wash of tones and ideas engulf listeners for a listen that transports you through different eras of rock again and again like a time machine. This said, there’s a lot of disconnect that leaves the album feeling inconsistent, but the early wave of great songs will make it hard to be truly be bothered by this.
The stripped-back beauty of “Can It Be Love” makes every little note that MacIntosh trickles in feel important and uplifting. While it never really has a big sweeping drop, there’s something really human about its simplicity that makes its personal roots feel potent themselves. The vintage sweep of flutes and grainy guitar makes “Lulu” feel magical and romantic, tapping into something cheesy without becoming overtly predictable. As MacIntosh blends elements of dozens of classic rock sounds into his dish, the song feels like a blast from the past you somehow missed.
MacIntosh moves along to bouncy and spritely guitar work on “The Grass” that recalls “Blackbird” in its sense of immediacy and wholesomeness. Even within a short time, MacIntosh’s story feels detailed and is delivered with the right mix of emotions to avoid selling it short. “I Wish I Could Feel Like I Used To” is one of the few tracks to suffer from feeling derivative on the record, although it brings enough unique riffs and sounds to be utterly forgettable. Not one to stretch out a song that doesn’t need it, MacIntosh also keeps it brief her and makes you wonder how he got so low.
A moody swing engulfs “My Dark Side” for so long it’s hard to even notice its brighter moments before they pass. Though it’s a fun and heavy trip of an interlude, it’s also hard to feel like it’s not just an on-the-nose pastiche of the Pink Floyd album of the same name. “Peter Pan” bounces with an intentionally awkward sway, as it’s off-kilter jazz plays to the whimsical nature of Peter himself. Though there’s redeemable moments, each part seems so detached from the last that you’ll be adjusting on every transition.
“Pretty Clear” blends 80’s sci-fi aesthetic with a very harmonious sense of indie pop that would make Belle & Sebastian blush. The resulting mix hits with a sharp and unique sound that is equal parts unpredictable and derivative. The loose syncopation makes “Quotation” an immediately distinct piece that cuts with a blend of sixties sensibilities and weird modern hooks. Though it’s utterly simple, the sunny guitars can be entrancing nonetheless.
There’s an immediately intoxicating quality to the wash of sound on “Can’t Stop Holding” as MacIntosh crafts a feeling rather than just a song. Building riffs from there, there’s seemingly endless variation to the beauty he brings throughout the track. Though there’s a nice stripped-down feel to “When To Turn The Lights Back On” it just feels too out of place on the album and it doesn’t bring anything really new or deeply emotional to feel poignant.
Words By Owen Maxwell