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The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

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  1. Melody Bot

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    t’s safe to say the last time we heard from The Jealous Sound – whether that was on 2008’s too-short-but-sweet Got Friends EP or on their now-classic 2003 LP Kill Them With Kindness – we were all different people. (And if the last you heard of Blair Shehan’s gravelly pipes was on a Knapsack album, well, how are your kids and/or grandkids?) Whatever. Point is, it hasn’t so much been a wild ride, but a slow, meandering one. The fact that this release is even coming out is in and of itself sort of a punk-rock miracle. And the fact that A Gentle Reminder (GET it?) packs the same post-midwest-emo-blah blah as the band’s earlier landmarks is even more special. 9 years may have passed, but not a step has been missed.

    Even more so than with Knapsack, Blair Shehan’s vocals are the true force propelling The Jealous Sound. The way he moans into the distance, “Pray you don’t know how this feels” on “Your Eyes Were Shining,” the understated strain-into-melody on opener “Beautiful Morning,” – it’s sort of like running into an old friend after years away, yet you can talk and talk for hours. More so than many scene staples, Shehan can’t help but emote over the indie-pop inclinations of his and Pedro Benito’s guitar tones. It makes for a listening experience that is somehow peaceful and cathartic.

    But I suppose the “problem” with something like A Gentle Reminder is that it’s just that. Even though we are different people, we still hold inside us those wide-eyed youngsters who found solace in “Anxious Arms” or “Recovery Room.” Will this album ever be able to trump those sounds so deeply ingrained into our brains? No, sadly. Is it unfair for us to expect it to, though? Definitely, positively, absolutely. If anything, it’s clear this current iteration of the band (which now features, at least on this album, bassist Nate Mendel of the Foo Fighters) also cherishes those songs. That’s not to say that A Gentle Reminderfeels like a rehash or a grab at the past. A song like “Perfect Timing,” with its rumbling bass-led verses and explosive, indie-rock chorus (complete with Oh Oh’s!) is far and away a more well-constructed song than most of the fare on the sort-of reactionary Kill Them With Kindness. It’s not comparing apples to oranges, rather looking at The Jealous Sound’s lifespan is proof that re-teaching yourself something old will always produce something fresh.

    In their best form, The Jealous Sound were always a band that seemed to understand their fans on a completely humbling level. Perhaps that’s what made their inactivity so hard to swallow. People had been looking up to Blair Shehan for quite a long time before he sort of just disappeared. That’s not a dig, there are a million billion different reasons people fade out of our lives. But I think what is so moving about this new album, and especially finale, “Waiting For Your Arrival,” with its lines, “Im just so glad you came / When you least expect me there / I will be there…”, is that the revolving door policy of life isn’t one way. People can always come back. Regardless of circumstance, if they are willing to return, shouldn’t we at least hear them out? The Jealous Sound may have gone away, and we may have even forgotten about them for a time, but in this instance their return is just as glorious as that inevitably special first meeting.

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