After breaking out with 2010 debut Daydreams and expanding from a duo to a four-piece, Kiwi punk band The Jury And The Saints unleashes on its important self-titled, sophomore album.
New Zealand hit single and EP Revival and openings for acts like Paramore have instilled a confident swagger into the group. Opener Start Moving showcases what the band is all about: happy, hooky, poppy punk. This testosterone-fuelled scream fest throbs with an infectious sense of enthusiasm and euphoria, making listeners feel like ‘spinning round and round’ or jump without a care in the world. It also features one of many ‘whoa oh oh oh’ hooks on the album, intended to connect with live audiences.
Fever may not be musically adventurous with few chords, but its frequent references to ‘running hard’, screeches from vocalist Jesse Smith and pounding beats make it the perfect jogging soundtrack. Focus may be about the lack of it, but has glorious group harmonies reminiscent of 1980s hair metal and a tight band performance, even as the track slows to the bridge.
The rebellious spirit continues on the fiery Freedom Fighter. It is an emphatic, self-motivating pep-talk determined to ‘not fade out’, thanks to a charging chorus and wonderful double (or is it triple?) tracking in the vocal harmonies. Listeners wouldn’t be blamed for being reminded of recalling loud, bombastic Slippery When Wet-era Bon Jovi.
After the sleazy, stalker-ish Knocking on the Devils Door, the fun, unabashed City Lights follows When The Levee Breaks-like drums with the slightest hint of a disco beat and throbbing 1980s synths suited for a dance party, as Smith shows off a bit of his inner Axl Rose. Brand New also has these unexpectedly sparkly synths over somewhat emo lyrics and effective repetition of the title, bringing more hooks to the album.
The more earnest tracks like the call for arms Last Time (which sounds like a poor copy of I’ll Be There For You) and the humourless, musically monotonous mid-tempo Monday Morning are a bit stock-standard. Fortunately, the quality picks up again towards the end with the climactic anthem Last Mistake and the strong, pummelling closer Make Our Mark. The latter especially manages to get the balance right between enraged, almost aimless screeching with a bit of melody.
The Jury And The Saints’ second studio effort features more of its fun, catchy ‘monster’ rock. It is not meant to be taken seriously, but it certainly rouses and begs to bring people together. Surely, the band should be proud to have met its objective with this album.