Album Review: The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder (Playing Knitting Factory Tonight!)

By Emilia D’Albero

Lately, the emo genre has been earning its fair share of criticism from fans and fanatics who claim the label is offensive or incorrect in some way. But that’s mostly because the word “emo” is often associated with skinny jeans, dark makeup, and My Chemical Romance, instead of the raw emotion and thought-provoking musicality that should rightfully define the emo genre. However, the Los Angeles-bred band The Jealous Sound is taking that stereotype and basically beating it into the ground with the release of their long-awaited sophomore album, A Gentle Reminder.

Their first album, Kill Them With Kindness, was received very warmly and was even one of Spin’s Best Albums of 2003. Nine years later, The Jealous Sound are finally continuing their legacy of emotionally charged rock music, delighting critics and fans alike. Having taken a 9-year hiatus, the band obviously had some high standards to meet as well as a chance to show off new material and new skills, and they have done just that on A Gentle Reminder. The record is a continuation of Kill Them With Kindness’s train of thought, with the new twist of added harmonic complexity and perhaps the addition of a few life lessons that frontman Blair Shehan had learned during the band’s vacation.

While most artists’ styles would have changed a considerable amount in a period of inactivity that long, The Jealous Sound has stayed comfortably similar, making their newest release nostalgia at its finest for those who have stayed loyal to the band since the release of Kill Them With Kindness in 2003. A Gentle Reminder maintains the simplicity that made The Jealous Sound so popular while integrating the maturity that the members have gained in their time away. The opening track, “A Beautiful Morning”, introduces the album perfectly with floating treble as Shehan croons the words “make you whole,” which are followed by the addition of heavy, distorted bass that seem to make the song itself whole. Following “A Beautiful Morning” is “Change You”, a 5-minute-long song about being defiant to change, possibly a reference to the mindset of the band regarding the unwavering quality of their music. The raw urgency in Shehan’s voice and heart wrenching chord progressions in the song make “Change You” one of the most memorable parts of the album and a song that you will want to listen to many more times after the album ends.

Another relatively strong track is “Promise of the West”, which perpetuates the theme of life lessons and emotional development that is present on A Gentle Reminder with pulsing bass from Nate Mandel, who once played with the Foo Fighters, and desperate, heartfelt lyrics from vocalist Blair Shehan. Shortly thereafter, Shehan sings “Can you feel my beating heart?” during “This Is Where It Starts” (which is placed curiously in the middle of the album instead of at the start) and alerts the listener to the fact that the passion in his voice coupled with the pounding percussion makes the listener feel like they actually can feel his beating heart. In a world where, more often than not, generic themes of alcoholism and casual sex in music eclipse genuine emotion and raw passion, the ability to internalize what the artist is feeling and fully understand it is rare and unusual, but The Jealous Sound have pulled it off. “Here Comes the Ride” is another song off of A Gentle Reminder that also does this; the slow tempo and gentle vocals are similar to that of a Coldplay love song and draw the listener in, making them want to actually listen to the lyrics and maybe even let a tear or two fall.

As the album draws to a close, The Jealous Sound throw in a few musical surprises, including “Equilibrium”, a track that comes as a shock not only because it is quite possibly the strongest track on the album, but also because of the stark contrast between it and the other songs on the album- it is fast and heavy with intense, almost strained vocals that sound as if the subject matter of the song still hits home with Shehan even months after it was written. And it is not only “Equilibrium” that will hit home with the listeners; it is the entire album. From “A Beautiful Morning” to “Waiting For Your Arrival”, the closing track, A Gentle Reminder will send your emotions on a rollercoaster ride and leave you waiting for the arrival of more music from The Jealous Sound.

The Jealous Sound play the Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Avenue) tonight in Brooklyn, NY. A limited amount of tickets are available now online

The Jealous Sound Tour Dates

2.15 Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
2.16 Philadelphia, PA @ Milkboy
2.17 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
2.18 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
2.19 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
2.20 Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
2.21 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
2.22 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
2.24 Portland @ Hawthorne Theatre
2.25 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
2.27 San Francisco @ Bottom of the Hill
2.28 Los Angeles @ The Satellite

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