Review: Jakalope – Things That Go Jump in the Night

We’ve written about our deep, unabating fondness for Jakalope’s first album, It Dreams and our equally passionate disdain for their follow-up, Born 4. Now with a new singer and a new sound what have the Canadian duo got in store? Honestly speaking, even after repeated listens it’s still hard to say.

Jakalope are suffering from a severe case of multiple personality disorder. They established themselves as a creepy-fun, pop-electro hybrid with an industrial influence and the trappings of the alternative community. On their first album it worked beautifully, then they tried to become a traditional rock band and they fell into tedium. Vocalist Katie Biever left the band and was replaced by the lovely Chrystal Leigh and they have now released the first collaboration between Leigh and electronic legend David Olgilvie. And the MPD continues.When we purchased the digital album the “genre” section of iTunes classifies the album as “Industrial”. Even the labeling gods are confused. No industrial album, this but it is a collection of nice tunes from across the genre spectrum. There are heavy gospel influences here (“Magnolia”, “Witness”), a strong electronic presence, but one that no longer dominates, a top 40 attitude in many tracks, and even a dance influence. Each song sounds like it could be from an entirely different album. Missed here is the sinister-creepy shadow that hung over much of the band’s early work (though we get hints of it like in the subtle chilling organ sounds laid deep in the background of the rather traditional, mainstream “Magnolia”), and as a result the album doesn’t pack the distinct quality of their masterful debut.

There are clear highlights – “AKA Cupcake” has a terrific moody flow, “Regenerate” and “Combine” feel like they could almost have been on It Dreams, and “Baby Blue” is a very pretty piano ballad that shows us much of what Leigh brings to the table with her musicianship as well as her lovely voice.

There has been criticism of the many of the bands fans of Leigh. “She’s no Katie B.” they moan, and that’s true. But while Katie has been drawn into the world of country (which was a clear and unfortunate influence on Born 4) Leigh is very much at home with those things that make Jakalope what they are (we saw hints of how well she works with this kind of music with her occasional work with Delerium). Bottom line is Leigh brings a different but polished and entirely appropriate voice to the project and it’s one of the nicest developments of Jakalope Mach 2.

It’s not a great album by any means but there are glimmers of something potentially great. We wish they’d figure out exactly what kind of band they are/want to be, but compared to their last album the trajectory they’re on is now the right one…

Watch: Witness


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