Jesus Jones – Passages (Album Review)

Jesus Jones – Passages (Album Review)

In the 1990s, they were on top of the world. Their single “Right Here, Right Now” was a toast of the day, placing number-one on U.S. Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks and ubiquitously playing on practically any Pop/Rock-oriented radio stations. The beautiful hairstyles of the band’s members made them so-called poster boys, catapulting them to being among the decade’s flag-bearers of the New Wave aesthetics. They released three albums more after their internationally successful sophomore album, 1991’s Doubt. However, soon after unleashing their final oeuvre in 2001, London, they turned low-profile – quite low that even many of their own fans abroad have almost forgotten about these international bright young stars of the ’90s Alternative Dance scene.

They were Jesus Jones—Mike Edwards (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Jerry de Borg (guitars), Al Doughty (bass), Iain Baker (keyboards, programming), and Edward “Gen” Matthews (drums)—formed in 1988, in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England; and they are back—with a brand new album in tow!

Yes, after 17 years, the reenergized Jesus Jones return with new music, released independently on Friday, April 20, 2018. Titled Passages, Jesus Jones’s sixth studio album is indeed, as how the band themselves described it, a set of rockin’ dance-floor stompers – hard-hittin’ and edgy yet still bears the English quintet’s penchant for pumping Dance Pop anthems.

Passages opens with the upbeat, anthemic, energetic, and slashing Guitar Pop track “Where Are All the Dreams?” Jesus Jones are really out to secure their place in the Alternative scene once again. The compelling beats, punchy pulses, and angular guitars continue with “Suck It Up,” serving as a silver surfboard to Edwards’ soaring satiny voice. The tempo slows down for a bit and the jagged mood relaxes as “Chemistry” and “Fall” boil with their bass-driven Electronic swagger.

Jesus Jones then shoot the stars and step on the pedals, as “ Rounding Out the Square Holes” switches to undulating bolts of hyperdrive energy. “How’s This Even Going Down?” is another Dance Rock track that takes the band to a higher, yet still familiar level.

An album highlight, the melodramatic “So Welcome” is an excursion to Space Rock territory, owing to its floating Kraftwerkian keyboard melodies, staccato accompaniments, and Edwards’ mellifluous vocal delivery. “Grateful” is a great mix of contemporary Indie Rock and good ol’ ’90s Baggy Dance – symbolizing Jesus Jones’s readiness to explore the current musical landscape while still adhering to their own trademark sound. The heartrending “One Day at a Time” finds Jesus Jones in New Romantic/Sophistipop/Trip-Hop balladry combo mode, swimming with a graceful rhythm in a stream of consciousness. Finally, Edwards, de Borg, Doughty, Baker, and Matthews finish Passages with “Stripped” – a straightforward, cascading, and bouncy mid-tempo that recalls the Jesus Jones of old.

With their new album, Jesus Jones remind the world that they are indeed back – right here, right now – with their sonic spirits remaining intact, but yet unrestrainedly adorned with the exciting musical flourishes of the current times. CrypticRock gives Passages 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Passages:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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