History need not be old to be influential. Spencer Nezey got interested in music production upon hearing In Search Of…, the 2002 debut album by N.E.R.D. (see: the Neptunes plus some guy). Five years later, he’s working with an outstanding vocalist named Jessie Payo under the name Jupiter Rising. What’s perhaps most surprising about their first album—Electropop—is that even though it doesn’t cover any new territory, it hits that pop-rock sweet spot early and quite often. “Hero” is the big Mariah-styled ballad, but Payo never overuses her pipes like Mimi does: she has the occasional flutter, but that’s it. Her vocal presence is distinct, powerful, and full of personality. Same goes for Nezey’s productions, even though he can’t really decide if he wants to be the next David Foster or the next Timbaland. The excellent “Go!” is Nelly Furtado with a rock edge, and “Foolish” comes off like a great Amy Winehouse B-side (even if its bridge is a little weak). Even with the great moments of genre deviations (like the jazz-pop of “They Say”), Jupiter Rising feels most comfortable when they’re up-tempo. The title track has the flirtatious banter of Furtado’s “Promiscuous”, a ready-made synth club beat, and even gives a slight name drop for 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop”—it’s ridiculous fun. Notice all the name-dropping that’s been going on? Jupiter Rising never pretend to be doing anything profoundly different—they’re just taking the best parts of all their favorite songs and styles and mixing them together into on concise little album. Electropop is far from groundbreaking, but who needs to be revolutionary when you’re having so much fun?
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// Notes from the Road
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