Arts in Review

Jo Passed’s debut flies lopsided and glorious



Jo Passed’s Their Prime seems to have climbed out of the murky intersection between the kind of pre-Led Zeppelin rock that ostensibly died out in the early-’70s and Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth.

Opener “Left” gives listeners the impression that Jo Passed is more anxious than they end up being, because although the tracks that follow are just as full of tension, they reveal themselves to be entirely conscious of themselves.

At 12 tracks, Their Prime is full of enough content to populate two more concise, distinctly different versions of the band’s debut. However, where the difference between the lackluster “Facetook” and the manic “Millennial Trash Blues” is most apparent, is within the first four seconds of either track (despite the fact that they do not follow each other chronologically). “Millennial Trash Blues” is magnificently manic and infinitely danceable — more of a punk jam than the record’s opening track would have one believe. That said, “Facetook” is equally downcast, but opts to throw on a hazy, lo-fi outfit instead of a more aggressive alternative.

This, perhaps, explains the band’s allure: its seemingly effortless two-track existence, at once rock-and-roll and at once its antithesis. Even mid-riff, such as on “Repair,” the instrumental conflagration gives way to a passively-wrought chorus that advances, apparently, in spite of itself, relying on leftover inertia to make it through the track’s mid-point. Always reveling in an anxious build-up that acknowledges its own release before turning towards the pop-tinged area of the music landscape, “Repair” perhaps best encapsulates the version of post-punk that Jo Passed offers us: always self-referential but never snobby. As if the record were set on letting listeners know that the band has the know-how and conviction to abandon each musical phrase for a new one after only four seconds while still making a somewhat coherent musical (or instrumental) statement, Their Prime turns out to be both incredibly relaxed for a record as fraught with dissonance as this, and unpredictable for something so laid-back. Tension materializes and dissipates in the same breath, and for all one might try, there’s never a clear winner within any one track. It’s never all noise or all ethereal whispers, almost always it’s a revolving flapjack of both: each side distinct, yet part of the other.

This doesn’t mean the record itself is erratic in direction; if anything, it sets out in one on the first track, but meanders consistently in the tracks that follow, while still sticking to the general path. Like a child finding their path to a house through the woods, Their Prime does not fly straight, but man, are the detours ever worth it.

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