The Jealous Sound - Kill Them With Kindness (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Jealous Sound

Kill Them With Kindness (2003)

Better Looking

I'm not feeling incredibly eloquent today, so let's see if I can get this out without sounding like an uneducated fool. Basically, here's the skinny - once upon a time [about the early-to-mid nineties,to be exact], there was a band called Knapsack. Knapsack was fronted by a man named Blair Shehan. The band, alongside bands like Jawbox, Mineral, Texas Is The Reason, and Braid helped define what the modern "emo" sound is today, except Blair had a significantly cheerier outlook on songwriting. Where Knapsack left off, the Jealous Sound tried to pick up on their self-titled EP that came out in 2000, but the release felt suffocating and a bit stunted, as if Shehan was writing it for other people, not himself. With this, the group's first proper full-length, Blair has regained his footing atop the mountain of indie rock songwriters.

And the music ain't half bad, either.

But first, the other members - this band isn't just ex-Knapsack, you know. Guitarist Pedro Benito sharpened his claws in the wholly underrated Sunday's Best, and new drummer Adam Wade's name might ring a few bells - he was responsible for hitting the skins for both Shudder To Think and the aforementioned Jawbox. These four guys aren't youngins; they've been around the block and back many a time, and have used this wisdom to make a tightly honed rock machine.

And rock the Jealous Sound does, and does well. Juxtaposing the cute album title and kitchy pastel artwork is some thick guitar lines driven by solid drumming and Blair's highly unique voice [think Mineral or Sunny Day Real Estate's vocals but without as much whine]. The music has a feel of what maybe Jawbreaker might have evolved into, given time - a lot of it is emotional pop punk, but with a happier edge. This band might bridge the gap between "Dear You" and "Orange Rhyming Dictionary" [especially with their use of keyboards on a few tracks]. Now I'm not saying Shehan is as good a lyricist as Mr. Schwarzenbach in his prime, but he easily rivals a lot of stuff Blake's spat out in his JTB days [and totally demolishes a lot of the fodder found on the Jets' newest disc].

I'm not sure exactly what more to say about this album, besides there isn't a single time I haven't listened to it that I haven't enjoyed it. It's not breaking tremendous amounts of new ground, but it's enjoyable for what it is, and it will see many a spin in my car this summer.

The Gift Horse