The Jessica Fletchers - Less Sophistication (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Jessica Fletchers

Less Sophistication (2005)

Rainbow Quartz

Psychedelic pop is one of those genres you either rave to your friends about and insist to no end that they're missing out on "the next big thing," or it's one of those genres you go out of your way to avoid. It's got a very niche following, which tends to make many of the bands very hit or miss. Without any middle ground on which to tip-toe, the Jessica Fletchers attempt to sneak into the former of my categorizations, and I can't say that I'm going to make any attempt to stop them.

While it is pop music at its core, with very simplistic rhythms and song structures and emphasis on melody, there's a lot brewing beneath the surface that's not expected of a typical pop record.

The vocals of Thomas Innsto are equal parts charming and melodic, and are nothing short of inviting. His style is laid back, but the production lends a lot to helping his voice really stand out. That's not to say it's too glossy or overproduced -- quite the contrary -- but it's produced to show each member of the band in their own light when necessary. With Innsto's vocals cheerily leading the way, the rest of this Norwegian five-piece can seemingly do no wrong. The band has such a strong sense of melody that it carries into everything they do. Every instrument, every word sung sounds crisp and beautiful. Take healthy doses of the B-52's, the Monkees, and a small splash of the Beatles, and you'll have a decent grasp of what you should be expecting from this album. What's to be said? The band can write damn near perfect pop songs. Take "Get Connected" for instance. The chorus of that song very well may be one of the catchiest you're liable to hear all year. It's bouncy, and just a lot of good fun. The light background singing also wonderfully compliments things, presenting the full package that the band so clearly offers.

"Summer Holiday & Me" has a bit more attitude to it, and has some more noticeable guitar and keyboard work to its credit. The lyrics are probably just what you'd expect from this type of music; nothing too serious at all. I don't have any examples for you, because the band opted to have an 8-page booklet of blank pages for liner notes, with "less sophistication" written on page 6 or so.

Defying its own name, the track "Less Sophistication" shows the Jessica Fletchers taking a quick foray into garage rock, with some gritty, almost blues-sounding riffs riding over some fuzzy bass tones. It's a different sound for the band, but an oddly compelling one that still is able to find its own niche in the record.

Less Sophistication is a Summer record that's bound to provide a lot of fun and opportunity to sing or clap along. Just try and listen to this album without a smile on your face, just try, it's an impossible task, though I don't know why anybody would try to withhold their good mood while these songs are coming through their speakers. If you buy one feel good pop record this year, let it be the A-Sides' Hello,Hello. But if you feel so inclined to purchase two pop records this year, the Jessica Fletchers would make a fine home in your stereo.