The CD insert tray of the debut album from Seattle’s Jupe Jupe features an ‘80s-style analog keyboard with neon pink panties draped over it. On the surface, that might be all that needs to be said about this band, at least when you’re speaking about the record’s front half. Obviously, this is a group that isn’t reinventing the wheel. They’re obvious contemporaries of synth-laden bands like Chromeo, Cut Copy and Hot Chip. Jupe Jupe definitely bring home the 1980s-style party anthems, crafting music that’s similar to old-school European pop acts like Depeche Mode (particularly around the Speak and Spell era) and Duran Duran. Vocalist My Young sounds like a volatile cocktail of equal parts Bryan Ferry, Dave Gahan and Simon Le Bon, and the band adds a starburst finish of mid-period Electric Light Orchestra to their sound as well just so you won’t think they’re completely copping a sound. At least, all that goes for the front half of this LP.
Something happens about midway through, though, and Jupe Jupe start turning their pens to slow jam ballads. And not just any ballads, mind you. By the time “The Grand Drape” and “The Fading Din” come around on the back half of the record, they start to turn their sound towards the proggy and psychedelic. The latter song sort of sounds like Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. It’s like someone called the cops on Jupe Jupe in the middle of a house party, and the band decided to go soft-shoe just to appease the law. The transition is jarring, to say the least. In that sense, you might say that Jupe Jupe are unsure of their identity. They have strong songs—they just have to deliver an album that has a consistent sound, pick an era and run with it. As it stands, by the end of this album, the party girls will have picked their panties off the musical instruments and have long gone home.
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// Notes from the Road
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