Queen of Jeans - If you're not afraid, I'm not afraid (Cover Artwork)

Queen of Jeans

If you're not afraid, I'm not afraid (2019)

Topshelf Records

The final lyric on opener “Get Lost” has Queen of Jeans’ singer Miriam Devora plainly stating “I should’ve taken my own advice.” The song pulses with light bass on the downbeat as it builds to the closing moments through atmospheric guitar tones. When Devora ends with that lyric, she is welcoming the listener into their new album If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid. It’s a statement of intent delivered with confidence.

If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid is filled to the brim with these types of observations punctuated with dramatic compositions unafraid to experiment with guitar tone. It adds to the intensity of the dreamscape sounds painted by Queen of Jeans. Bassist Mattie Glass deftly employs bass lines that bounce between the floating guitars giving complicated indie rock a pop foundation. The walking bass line feel to “All the Same” excels at connecting the vocal patterns.

Queen of Jeans like to employ big, airy song endings that leave the listener spinning circles in walls of sound. As the band hits the gut punch in “Only Obvious to You” with Devora singing “Love will always fuck you over / Love will always fuck you in the head,” they add to the effect by building a minimalistic vocal centering those lyrics into swirls and escalating percussion from Patrick Wall. Wall knows when to let the beats sit in a soundscape but can also drive a song as in the hi-hat splashes and galloping snare and toms in “Bloomed.” Closer “Take It All Away” shows off the band’s penchant for building dramatics.

It’s not just that these buoyant arrangements sound pleasing, they are backed with lyrics dealing with love, support within community, and confidence that you are all you need in spite of it all. On “Tell Me,” Devora knowingly asks “Does it bother you that I’m forward / That I have a thoughtful mouth / While you spew sick intolerance / I’m afraid to leave my house.” So a second later when she emphatically states “You can’t sign away my rights on the dotted line,” it brings the opening lyrics all-together; “Tell me your secrets in spite of you / Tell me the terrible things you’ll do.” The song touches both the ongoing attacks in this current political moment on the LGBTQ community and sexism in the music industry writ-large.

If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid is very well composed indie-pop album. The wall of sound quality to the mix and Queen of Jeans’ attention to detail really punctuates all of its attributes.