Upon first listen, I was ready to write, "The Jet Age's third LP is their best." Then listening to the first two again, I paused. "in 'Love'" is probably the band's catchiest record -- the easiest to quickly get in to. Best? I leave that to the moment. Sometimes I want the simple guitar-bass-drums-vocals garage rock of first album "Breathless." Sometimes I crave the head rush of "What Did You Do During the War, Daddy?" But if I'm feeling sentimental -- or flat heartsick -- "in 'Love'" wins by a couple lengths. What's always clear, though, is that while maintaining an identifiable Jet Age sound, this record continues to show the trio's diversity.
Singer-songwriter Eric Tischler's got a great rhythm section to let his riffs explore -- Pete Nuwayser's roaming drumming and frequent fills; Greg Bennett's heavy and melodic bottom -- but other than his solos, which remain searing and adventurous, he's seemed to reel in the rest of his guitar layers. It works for the subject matter, and at times the trio explores new sonic territory, like the haunting and funky underwater groove of "You Were Electrified." Following the disgruntled-American-turned-suicide-bomber theme of "Daddy?" a love songs album may seem a stretch, but The Jet Age pulls it off. The protagonist on "Daddy?" was a father and husband after all, so love played a big, though conflicted, role on that album. That conflict is further explored here.
The music on this record maintains that Who-lovin' garage rock played through a Swervedriver-informed shoegaze filter, but with more jangle and some of the power pop of Tischler's -- and Bennett’s -- previous band, the raw pop rock outfit Hurricane Lamps. The band takes some breaks from their prior clamor, though doesn't abandon it. Again, appropriate for love songs. But before you judge on the L-word alone, consider the heartbreaking and hearts broken on “in ‘Love.’” And there's still plenty of adrenaline. As contemplative as the lyrics can get, the music still keeps you on your feet -- toes tapping, fists churning.
"And I realized when you put your hand between my thighs that you wanted me the way I wanted you" seems a bit too hokey on "You Were Electrified," but more often on the album, darker sentiments are used to show the heat. "I couldn't leave her until there was you," from "I Couldn't Tell You" and the opening exchange between a cheating couple on "Sunday Morning" -- "Sunday morning in bed with you. I've gotta go now, he'll be home soon." -- seem as much about deception as they are about passion. There is some sap on the album, but there's nothing inherently wrong with that. This record has plenty of sentimental poetry. Witness "My addiction is easy to see. She's right next to me," and "I was dying of thirst and she brought a chalice" on "We Were Shameless."
Opener "I'm Starting to Wonder" sets the table for that degree of doubt that haunts the album, and it does it with such heartfelt passion that you, too, on first listen, will call this the best Jet Age LP you've heard.