Ma Jolie - ...Compared to Giants (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ma Jolie

...Compared to Giants (2012)


Philadelphia’s Ma Jolie has produced a debut album that covers a lot of ground over the course of half an hour, and at times offer up some real punk rock gems that have hooks, catchiness and singalong parts that are dispensed with gruff vocals and a guitar sound that doesn’t need a buzzsaw approach to make an impact. The mix is quite good, with the vocals sitting slightly behind the music, although at times I thought the cymbals were too intrusive, but to be fair that’s a minor niggle.

The album opens strongly with “88 mph,” “How Far is 5k” (with a brief Samiam-like intro--a feature that’s also found on “Size 10, Nikes”) and “Let It Grow, Bro” before kicking into the highest point achieved across the 11 tracks, “No, Pennsylvania is the Reason”, which has all the necessary components I like to help make it a marvelous song. One of those components would be the lyrics, which include the following verse, one where the message isn’t anything startlingly new but which resonates strongly with me in my life at the moment:

"Don't take what you get, you're better than that / Quit holding your breath and praying for air / When did this ever get you what you wanted? / You pray for the sky, but stare at the ground / Look alive, this could be the last time / When did this ever get you what you wanted?"

Beyond that peak, it would be hard for any band to maintain that level of work but to the credit of Ma Jolie they don’t hit any major sized troughs and there are certainly songs that have an ability to stir something inside me, including “Era and the Metric System” and “Size 10, Nikes.”

This record combines a more conventional melodic (pop) punk approach with elements of a post-hardcore, edgier sound. Despite this variation I occasionally found my mind wandering off when listening to some of the tracks, not that that’s always a bad sign; the music was still listenable but wasn’t really doing enough to keep my attention. However, it didn’t take too long before something that was going on snapped my focus back firmly on the album and invariably I found myself enjoying it again.

As a debut release, there is huge potential on display alongside the fact that Ma Jolie has managed to write some quality tracks (“No, Pennsylvania Is The Reason” and “How Far is 5k”) and deliver them with aplomb. I would hope that future releases show the band on the way to becoming more consistent in the songwriting process.