First Impressions: This Is Your Brain On J*DaVeY's 'Drug'

Monday, November 28, 2011

Above the fold, outside the lines J*DaVeY's has always rested. After releasing an assemblage of genre bending mixtapes and EP's and causing agitation among their fans, the LA-based duo have finally liberated their first official album. Brushing off newborn excitement, listeners might be surprised to find that New Designer Drug is shaken, but also stirred.

Oddly coy they are as they play it safe in some corners, as even some jarring experimental tracks this side of the The Beauty In Distortion and Land Of The Lost EP's are buffered down with a file of mainstream influence. New Designer Drug doesn't necessarily push what the duo has been doing into broader territory. They really are, at times, just coasting along in all of their rowdy rebel yell aesthetic that has made them alternative music darlings. So nothing substantially has changed, still their is some spunk to be had, as Drug, does give you a 'high' with it's compact paradoxes of sound.

Style wise NDD brings back the ghosts of the 80's LA New Wave scene a la Missing Persons' 1982 classic, Spring Session M to other punkers and 'wavers' like Talking Heads and Blondie (to name a few). No Wave darling Cristina is resurrected in Miss Jack Davey herself as she chrips and drolls along in cynic yearn, leading the duo through electronic mists of fancy. Yet in all of it's vintage recall, NDD does the morose 21st Century alt-soul very well, and not a sag is to be found within the tracklisting.

Skittish "Queen Of Wonderland" features the dense bass works of Thundercat, and swirls you up in synthesized rapture. On the flip, the clap-trap of "Little Tramp$" has Jack's better half Brook D'Leau snatching the mic as he skips into a squishy methodical punk ode about annoying jerks that is wickedly sharp and satirical. The percussive "Whatchalookin@" jams away with it's wall of thundering pounds.

Less abstract numbers seem to show how the duo have toned down some of their vibe. Of these subdued jaunts, opener "Listen" smolders away as it's pleads are reminiscent of past J* tracks like, "Crawl All Over" and "Raincheck". "Rock That Ship" bounces on a electro-pulse this side of Annie while the super funk-a-tron of "Turn The Lights Out". "Topsy Turvy" channels early 80's Prince (think Dirty Mind or Controversy) as does the jagged "This One" which includes jarring tempo changes and vocal distortions from Jack. Long time J* listeners are already familiar with "Mama's Back" and it's urgent intro that pounds on the ivories and keeps the energy afloat.

New Designer Drug, even in jumbled abandon, is well-organized and warrants multiple listens into it's psychedelia. Layers upon layers of sounds and ideas works for those like J*DaVeY as they make for a full course meal., plus show that they have ideas, and good ones at that. While their are some familiar moments that were tacked on here (yes, I remember you as well "Topsy Turvy" and "The One") and of course a slight slack off  to not be too flamboyant, all-in-all J*DaVeY made a fine re-introduction that further reemphasizes how kinetic and innovative the duo is--and will continue to be for later albums to come.

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Released Date: November 22, 2011

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