by Mark Teague
In an age where music is engineered to ensure at least thirty seconds of playtime – the necessary amount to be paid out through Spotify – beginning an album (even an EP) with a spoken word track is risky, yet Jamboree’s Room pulls it off with unflinching confidence.
“Distance” opens with an upbeat drum and bass hook that leads directly into monotone prose-poetry exploring notions of malaise, loneliness, and anxiety which foreshadow the motifs that ground the rest of the album.
It is difficult to maintain reasonable expectations when an album starts like this. Six songs of droning vocals make for a listening experience that isn’t exactly engaging, but the rest of Room turns out to be a string of denied expectations, and nothing if not sonically diverse. Throughout the next five songs, Jamboree eschews many major genre classifications and pulls influence from a range of bands spanning decades. The second track “Change” is a nineties power-pop powerhouse akin to early Weezer, discussing the discomfort of self-consciousness, but even this style is short-lived. Track three surprises with eighties heavy synth and shoegazey vocals. The next relies on keyboard melody and understated Morrisey lyrics, and the rest similarly refuse to follow any discernible thematic link.
This is not to say that the EP feels disjointed (although the introduction of auto-tune in “Pick Your Brain” was a bit too far afield for my taste), Jamboree’s ability to showcase their diversity while preserving a pleasing flow is a talent unto itself. In a short 20 minutes Room exposes the spectrum of sounds that the band has to make use of. It is an impressive range fitting for the extensive catalogue they have released over the last couple of years, and I look forward to watching their growth and promising future.