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Album Review: Only Real – Jerk At The End Of The Line

3 min read

When you look at all of the promotional materials for Only Real—otherwise known as Niall Galvin—that are out there, they all have this cheap 90s feel to them. He can often be seen eating cereal, pulling faces or simply looking like he couldn’t care less about anything. It initially made me unsure of what to expect from Jerk At The End Of The Line, and I was somewhat apprehensive about it.

Only Real Jerk At The End Of The LineUnsurprisingly, the visual aesthetic is a spot on match for the album. It’s full of British pop songs that draw influences from both psychedelic dream pop and 90s hip-hop, complete with rapping on a few occasions. It treads a fine line between sounding like a do-it-yourself first time production and a well-planned concept, but rather than detracting from the album it actually works to its benefit.

While the songs all alternate between which influences they draw from most, Niall’s done a good job of matching his voice and singing style to each song. He’s not the best singer in the world, but he doesn’t really need to be either. Yesterdays features his endearing half talking half rapping alongside one of the album’s hip-hop moments, mixing the right amount of hazy pop into it to keep it fresh. Four tracks later, he’s taking it even more seriously on Petals and creating a dark hip-hop instrumental over which he gives a serious rap performance. Even better, his flow was a pleasant surprise here, and the track just does everything right.

It’s on the next track, Cadillac Girl, that the album offers one of the best of its dreamy pop selection, once again featuring the talk-rap mixture without any of the hip-hop to compliment it. The song doesn’t need it, though, and he instead sounds right at home over the mass of cloudy guitars, drums and atmospheric sounds. If it sounds like he’s rapping a lot, rest assured that the album’s choruses tend to show off his singing skills as well. In terms of songs that showcase his vocal skills, Can’t Get Happy features more singing than most of the album, and also features his best performance on the album.

The influences of the album tend to complement each other enough that they don’t ruin a song when they clash, and none of the songs on the album present themselves as being absolutely terrible. Every song has some redeeming element to it that makes it worth listening to at least once, if not more. Despite this, it’s hard to deny that the songs that focus only on the hip-hop elements or dreamy psychedelic elements like Petals and Can’t Get Happy show the best the album has to offer.

Jerk At The End Of The Line was actually a pleasant surprise. Its aesthetic might be a mess of clashing 90s tropes, and the music might even carry the theme as well, but it doesn’t suffer from this in the slightest. The album is enjoyable throughout, and there’s some versatility shown that really helps it along. Only Real has taught me to shut my mouth and stop judging a book—or CD—by its cover with Jerk At The End Of The Line.