Jane Weaver 2024
Photo: Nic Chapman / Fire Records

Jane Weaver’s ‘Love in Constant Spectacle’ is Woven to Impress

British indie artist Jane Weaver bridges the experimental textures of her earlier work with accessible pop gestures on her latest album.

Love in Constant Spectacle
Jane Weaver
Fire Records
5 April 2024

Although Jane Weaver‘s music resonates most strongly at the avant-garde end of the British indie pop scene, her work is accessible enough to make it something of a mystery why mainstream attention has so far eluded her. On Love in Constant Spectacle, her 11th solo album (not counting EPs, collaborations, and soundtrack music with Fenella), Weaver inches ever closer to the kind of music able to transcend its idiosyncrasies.

Producer John Parish, best known for his work with PJ Harvey, plays a role in taming some of Weaver’s experimental instincts without sacrificing her uniqueness. “Emotional Components”, “Love in Constant Spectacle”, and “Univers” could all fit quite comfortably on mainstream radio or playlists without raising too many eyebrows. At the same time, Weaver’s maverick personality and love of obscure and arcane influences remain prevalent in her latest music.

The path to Love in Constant Spectacle is complex and fascinating, beginning with Jane Weaver’s early years as a member of Kill Laura, a late entry into the Madchester music scene through the guidance of impresario and Joy Division/New Order manager Rob Gretton. Weaver parried that experience into her early solo career and concurrent membership in Misty Dixon, which ended prematurely after the disappearance and death of key bandmate Dave Tyack.

Weaver’s early solo material bridged the worlds of indie pop and alternative folk, adding more psychedelic textures by the time of 2010’s acclaimed The Fallen by Watchbird, her fourth solo album. More radical transformations came with 2014’s The Silver Globe and 2017’s Modern Kosmology, in which Weaver’s ever-growing collection of vintage analogue keyboards and arcane instruments led her deeper into progressive electronica. Shades of Bauhaus, Can, Kraftwerk, NEU!, and early Tubeway Army/ Gary Numan mingled with Weaver’s melodic songwriting – a sort of Europop parallel to PJ Harvey’s brasher, bluesier output.

Love in Constant Spectacle retains many of the same textures, although the overall effect is a little gentler and more meditative than her previous album, Flock, in 2021. For all of Weaver’s experimental spirit, there isn’t a vast distance between some of the new songs and the soulful pop of, say, Sade or Dido. Weaver has always been keen on strong melodies and layered harmony vocals, so when “Perfect Storm” delivers its New Wave analogue groove or “Romantic Worlds” evokes chilled-out dancefloors, the music sits in a dynamic middle ground between alternative and mainstream.

However, Jane Weaver is not one to compromise her vision, and other Love in Constant Spectacle tracks delve into moodier waters. “Motif” is a fragile, almost folky interlude that recalls some of Weaver’s more acoustic-oriented work in earlier years. “The Axis and the Seed” is a dark, ethereal track that recalls the progressive music of Can or early Curved Air (for whose singer Sonja Kristina, Weaver is often a ringer). “Is Metal” dials in layered guitars and a woozy rock ambiance, and “Happiness in Proximity” has a jazzy groove in 6/8 time that bridges some unforeseen gap between Dave Brubeck and Jethro Tull.  

The final track, “Family of the Sun”, is again a departure from the rest of the album. Beginning as a fragmented vamp on vintage keyboards, the track evokes the cinematic French pop of Catherine Ribero or the eccentricity of Nico‘s The Marble Index. As with Weaver’s other echoes of the past, “Family of the Sun” attains an accessible pop timbre that reconciles different eras and styles.

Lyrically, not much on Love in Constant Spectacle coheres – a partly deliberate effect. In recent interviews, Weaver declares her aversion to writing autobiographically – even as events, such as her father’s death last year, affect the emotional resonances in her music. For the new songs, Weaver engaged in “randomizing” activities – such as translating lyrics into foreign languages on Google Translate, then translating back into English – to achieve the skewed idiom that once again recalls French and German Europop.

Lyrically and vocally, then, Weaver’s voice on Love in Constant Spectacle is just part of the music. On several tracks, she uses loose harmonies and imperfect double-tracking to displace any sense of a stable persona driving the tunes. At times, the technique recalls a less quirky Kate Bush or less dreamy Elizabeth Fraser (from the Cocteau Twins) – both artists who laid the groundwork for Weaver’s staunch vision of a female artist working on her own terms.

Love in Constant Spectacle is available in gatefold CD editions and on clear and black vinyl, plus a limited deluxe vinyl from Fire Records. It streams everywhere, including Bandcamp, the best source for Weaver’s extensive and eclectic back catalogue. An upcoming tour of the British Isles will span April and May, with the prospect of additional dates farther afield.

RATING 8 / 10