Paul Jacks’ In Other Words
Harmony is an important ingredient in any iconic pop LP, but it takes on an especially unique role in Paul Jacks’ In Other Words, which is out this August 6th everywhere that independent music is sold and streamed. In its cornerstone songs like “Draw Upon” and “Still Your Passenger,” the vocals meld into the very fabric of the instrumentation to yield a rarefied catharsis that is contagiously infectious to put it mildly. Beneath the cosmetically gorgeous surface, In Other Words is a sterling songbook of effervescence and experimentation, and it’s easily one of my favorite albums hitting record stores this month.
In Other Words is a lot more polished than Defractor, Paul Jacks’ last record, was, but I don’t think that it was conceived with big market airplay in mind. Tracks like “On the Tightrope,” “Kintsu” and “In the Late Dark” are too willfully eclectic by design to be born of pandering, while “You’re Gonna Learn to Love Someday” and “Too Emotional” have the swagger of songs that were never meant to be shredded by the inept equalization of the FM dial. Jacks made this for the fans, and I believe, for the very sake of expression itself – which is, these days, a rather commendable action.
Paul Jacks embraces the post-punk elements in his sound more than he ever did on his first LP here, but particularly in “You’re Gonna Learn to Love Somebody,” the title track and “Anything At All,” all three of which come dangerously close to entering throwback territory. The songwriting never devolves into formulaic predictability, but I think you could definitely make the argument that Jacks was trying to pay homage to some of the legends that preceded him in In Other Words without drawing from the same well that they did some thirty-five years ago.
The vocal track could have used a little more of a boost in “Do What You Will” and “In the Late Dark,” but the concept that the star of this show utilizes does make sense on a certain level. By making the instrumental aspects of these two songs as powerful, if not a touch more, than Jacks’ serenades are, it allows for us to appreciate the complete depth of their musicality without getting lost in the enigmatic prose of his words. It’s a heck of a way to arrange pop-influenced material, but then again, we should probably be expecting this from an artist like Paul Jacks at this point.
If you were hoping that this latest set of studio cuts would trump what we heard in Jacks’ last album, Defractor, then you’re going to be very happy with what In Other Wordsbrings to the table every time it pours out of the stereo. This singer, songwriter and multi-talented instrumental magician is firing on all cylinders and delivering one of the most exceptionally fetching alternative LPs of the entire season in this record, and it should be considered a more than worthwhile acquisition for any and all pop, rock and experimental connoisseurs in 2019.