Since they formed in 2009, Westfield, New Jersey’s the Static Jacks (lead vocalist Ian Devaney, guitarists Henry Kaye and Michael Sue-Poi, and drummer Nick Brennan) have earnestly burned their own path through indie rock’s crowded field. Ignoring music’s fickle trends, the Jacks have forged a unique blend of punk, garage, and soul sounds for a sonic
punch to the gut and heart. The band’s self-released Laces EP (2009), a riley glimpse at fleeting youth, saw the group hit its stride. This was bolstered by several tours with various indie notables including the Futureheads, Biffy Clyro, Young the Giant, and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Throughout, the Static Jacks held fast to a D.I.Y. and collective ethos, writing songs in full collaboration, designing their album and t-shirt art-and they became a band of brothers, well beyond friends making music.
Now, the fruits of the last two years have ripened into a full-length, If You’re Young, due out August 30th on Fearless Records. Recorded and produced by Chris Shaw (Ted Leo, Bad Brains, Elvis Perkins in Dearland) at Stratosphere Sound in New York City, the album expands Laces’ look at youthful trials and tribulations, from the peerless bliss of love found
to the barren hell of heartbreak to fear of the ever-looming future, of growing old, of stagnation-topics at once personal and also deeply universal. Yet as the Jacks explain the record, "Even if now you’re not young, you were once, so you’ll get where these songs are coming from." And If You’re Young is nothing if not wise, mature, and introspective, a hardwon product of experience rarely delivered by twenty-somethings. As well it marks the first time the band’s had a full-on studio at its disposal for nearly a month, with the tools and
freedom to build its songs into rich, dynamic beasts.
The opening track, "Defend Rosie," charges into a drunken night of wild antics and confrontations before resolving with a sober warning atop a wall of stomps and claps: "I’ve seen the future-you’ll never guess what the fuck is coming next." What’s up next is "Girl Parts," a warts-and-all portrait of lust in a friends-with-benefits relationship; its male-female
vocal duel renders the tension perfectly. "My Parents Lied," the Jacks describe, is "the story of finding glaring holes in your elders’ accounts of ‘the real world’"; it’s also a fervent affirmation of the present moment as all we’ve got, a battle cry for living fully, a boycott of cynicism. Elsewhere, "Walls (We Can’t Work It Out)" is a Misfits-tinged obituary for a love affair in decay, while "Mercy, Hallelujah" sounds like a slice of old Cure brashly abandoning religious faith. But If You’re Young offers up its share of brighter pieces, too, like "Relief" and "This Is Me Dancing." When Ian sings on the former epic, "Assemble, assemble the joy we’ll allow-so temporary but perfect for now," it’s evident that the Static Jacks haven’t yet exhausted hope-even if theirs is a measured kind. Perhaps the best example of this appears on the album’s closing track, the wonderfully titled "Drano-Ears." Here, sanguine waves of guitar carry a chorus that seems to embody the band’s perspective on lost youth: "The worst of it’ll pass away." "That’s what we want to leave listeners with-a positive note," the band says, "the sense that we all, at some point, weather the same shitty storms, but come out stronger in the end."
And stronger the Static Jacks are for all they reckon with on If You’re Young. This is clearly the work of a band that’s learned the future is unwritten-and so steps boldly into its fold without losing the fire of youth.
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