Los Angeles band the Jigsaw Seen has been around since the late ‘80s, so it’s a little disarming to hear their latest release Old Man Reverb. Stylistically, it’s all over the map ranging from lilting power pop nuggets to hard rocking anthems to, at the very end, country. If there ever needed to be a dictionary definition for a band or an album suffering from multiple personality disorder, this disc would be a prime example of it. Plus, Dennis Davison’s vocals sound a little much like Tim Quirk from Too Much Joy to these ears, which means that they are an acquired taste. And, sonically, Old Man Reverb is a little on the thin side, despite the fact that the album was mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Sean Magee at none other than Abbey Road Studios in London, England. So there’s a lot that’s surprising about this album, in terms of it not standing up to close scrutiny.
However, the album does have its charms, and isn’t the complete write-off that the last paragraph might make it out to be. When the Jigsaw Seen is on, they’re on fire. From a pure songwriting perspective, the album – although it is unfocused – can be quite strong. The acoustic jangly ballad “Your Mind Is Like Mine” is an inspired rewrite of The Mary Tyler Moore Show TV theme song, “Love Is All Around”. The opening track “Let There Be Reverb” is a punchy and catchy little gem that recalls ‘60s garage rock. And “Die Laughing” shows traces of Big Dipper, even though the song is a comedic metaphor for the AIDS epidemic (and there’s an oxymoron for you). Overall, Old Man Reverb is passable, and probably the sort of thing best for fans. Everyone else might want to preview the album first and cherry pick your favourite tracks. This is a rather lopsided thing.