Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Just Jack – Embers

He’s seen the boards and wires…


Tom Ewing: This is unexpected, brave, mental and quite hard to listen to. Not really because it reveals how we are like mere ants in the face of the terrifying forces which shape our lives, but because it sounds like a collaboration between Steve Reich and Steve Coogan.

Iain Mew: That’s some nice strings, there. Nice layered indistinct mumbling that adds up to rather more cumulatively than it ever could individually. A bit lacking in direction or any reason to choose to listen to it again, but not an unpleasant experience at any point. Then with seconds remaining he even stumbles across a decent chorus, albeit one straight from Ian Brown’s “FEAR”, and there’s a bit of a point to it after all.

Ian Mathers: Structurally “Embers” is a really weird song – it’s not much more than some post-“Viva La Vida” strings, handclaps, and Jack repeating a series of overlapping phrases. It gets quite busy by the middle of the song, but I kind of like it. I guess it helps that I have some sympathy for his themes – that we can drown in the sheer density of information available to us, that the decisions we think of as momentous are miniscule viewed from the distance of history, and that, err, “we are all embers from the same fire” (a bit hippieish, but I’ll take it). I’m not sure it’s a pop song, but it is stirring, and I find myself wanting to listen to it repeatedly.

Martin Skidmore: I kind of like the music, the urgently throbbing strings in particular, and the various elements are cleverly woven together. However, he sings on it. I suppose you can’t entirely blame someone for singing on their records, but he has such a fucking horrible voice, very flat and droney and depressing. The music would normally be worth a few points, but his voice is unbearably awful.

Mike Atkinson: So, when was the last time that a fully fledged canon went Top Twenty? Kudos to Jack for pushing his compositional envelope – and considering that the last two singles flopped, we should also commend his commercial bravery – but “Embers” would be a stronger piece still if it were actually, you know, about something. Then again, there’s nothing overly wince-making about the impressionistic lyrical fragments that Jack weaves in and out of the arrangement, deftly layering each on top of the other – and when they all run together at the song’s peak, the overall effect is really rather fetching.

Alex Macpherson: Reminds me of Animal Collective in a weird way, maybe in the way nothing is mixed and it makes me feel seasick.

Hillary Brown: Look, you don’t have to be able to sing like a nightingale to produce a really lovely modern motet, which is just what this warm, tingly song flushed with color and combining both gorgeous strings and handclaps is. Yay Autotune!

Michaelangelo Matos: There’ll always be an England, right?

Additional Scores

Edward Okulicz: [2]
Doug Robertson: [7]

One Response to “Just Jack – Embers”

  1. I actually didn’t mind this so much, especially when all the Jacks went round-robin w/ each other and I had no idea what he was going on about. Would’ve 6ed it if I could’ve found some way to say that and avoided mentioning Will & Grace.