Thursday, April 13, 2017

Album Review: Audio Jane - Naive

We are all products of our time. Like baby ducklings who imprint on their mother to guide them through the formative stages of life, music fans are forever bound to the music that surrounded them as they fell in love with music. For me, that time was the early to mid 90s. The one thing about that period of time, if you were looking beyond the pop charts, was an overwhelming sense of despair. The music of the time was depressing, morose, and mired in the darkness. Looking back at history, it doesn't make any sense that one of the peaceful, prosperous times in our history led to a generation of whining mopers, but that's how it went.

So there is some nostalgia at play with Audio Jane's new album. It's impossible to listen to their hazy pop sound and not hear those old days again. There's a cloud of self-pity in the tones of the record that are pure 90s, transported to today. It might not be the best thing to say, but my initial thought is that this is a record that will play well with those of a certain age, and not at all with anyone who wasn't forged in the 90s.

For those of us in that target demographic, "Naive" is an album that succeeds because of the memories it evokes. It's hard to get excited about such a laconic piece of work, as the slow tempos and husky vocals are an energy sap. This isn't an album that you can smile along to. It's one that you would imagine hearing a band playing in the corner of a dimly lit townie bar on a Wednesday night. You don't dance to it, you shuffle your weight from foot to foot with your back planted against the wall.

"Naive" is an album that requires a bit of patience. If you listen quickly once, you're likely to miss out on the appeal these songs have. Given repeated listens, they begin to slowly unfold and grow roots. Audio Jane makes subtle music, but these are not subtle times, which can certainly be an issue. I didn't at first grasp everything the album has to offer. My initial impression was that it reminded me of my younger days in a pleasant way, but it didn't make a deep impact on me. As I gave it a bit of space, I found myself remembering that atmosphere, and hearing it in my head. I went back and listened again, and I began to understand the album.

Is "Naive" for everyone? Heck no. It's a piece of music aimed at a specific audience, and in certain moods it will work for them. I don't know how long, or how often you can live in the past, so I can't say how effective Audio Jane is going to be over the long haul. But for a break from today, and a reminder of the old days, it's a nice little diversion.

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