Jockstrap Keep A Delicate Balance
Hearing the members of Jockstrap describe their debut album, I Love You Jennifer B, is almost as entertaining as listening to the album itself. “It was important for each song, soundwise, to have its own references and worlds,” producer Taylor Skye told me, “almost like a solar system of planets.” Georgia Ellery, who is the writer and singer said, “We obviously wanted it to flow, and there were songs that were nice relaxers after something tense, or something kind of weird to go into something weirder.”
All of this comes to comprise Jennifer B, the 10-track debut album by the UK-based duo who have paved their way with glitchy, uncompromising tracks backed up with effervescent vocals and poetic songwriting. Each song truly is its own world, with the spaced-out, dreamy and accessible “What’s It All About?” in sharp contrast to “Debra”, a bizarre electronic banger that keeps calling out “Hello?” and references Lolita. “It’s like when you walk down the street, and you see a strip club next to a dentist,” Skye said of how each song is wholly unique. “[Listeners] aren’t expecting everything to be a part of the same world; it’s more of a broader investigation of sound in general.”
It’s interesting Skye mentions a city-scape — multiple Jockstrap songs are peppered with the city motif, whether it be their first two EP titles, Love Is the Key to the City (2018) or Wicked City (2020), in a passing reference like on “Debra”, where Ellery teases, “I’ll take you to the city”, or on “Concrete Over Water”, which reminisces on a city night. I mentioned to the duo that I was able to connect with this specific theme intensely recently, having moved to a new city myself last month. The possibilities and anxieties they use in their lyrics relating to the city, as well as the eccentric array of sounds, map well onto the actual experience of living in it. “The city is where we came to study and where we met,” Ellery says of its meaning. “We had lots of formative times. In my lyric writing, I reference it a lot, because the songs are from experience. We grew up in a rural place, so there’s something very buzzy and lifelike about a city that I hadn’t experienced.”
We talked about “Glasgow”, the string-heavy and wondrous single whose video is as entertaining as it is dream-like. “I’m not coming to Glasgow,” Ellery sings, “I’ll just meet you at the shore.” The song occupies a certain niche within Jockstrap, where a single event or self-reflection is blown up to have grandiose meaning. “What I’m trying to do lyrically in that chorus is that I’ve got affirmations about myself, but then it wobbles a bit and you start to find the flaws in yourself,” Ellery said. The chorus is beautiful, packed tight with thoughtful lyrics about identity, ending with a funny punch: “I trust myself / I’m a woman she believes in / I touch myself / Every time I see what’s missing from my life.” It’s a back-and-forth process, says Ellery; “‘I’m gathering these things about myself, and I’ve got this, but not so sure about this. I’m okay, but not so okay.’”
This dichotomy shows up elsewhere throughout the album, as sonically, it follows the rule that opposites attract. On no other record released this year can you find such intense club bangers like “50/50” on the same album as love song “Greatest Hits”, and the duo’s combination of hard and soft is what makes their music in particular special. It’s hard to infuse electronic tunes with genuine human heart and emotion, but the ebb and flow between Skye’s production and Ellery’s writing and vocals makes Jennifer B balance so delicately.
About to embark on their first ever North American tour, I asked them what they had in store for the coming months. Skye in particular, who usually stands behind a booth during performances, mentions that they’re working on new ways to create a live show. “I’m looking forward to being on stage and having to think about what I’m doing and not pondering on life and stuff,” he said. “That’s a thrilling part, when you’ve gotta really concentrate in front of lots of people.”
As for what’s next, there’s more surprises to come, but a record as detail-oriented as Jennifer B is likely to keep listeners satisfied for quite a while. “We spent 3 years making it, so we want to give it the time it needs,” Skye said. Time to digest it, time to enjoy it, and maybe time for it to settle in as one of the best of the year so far.
order I love You Jennifer B by Jockstrap HERE
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