JAWS. The indie pop quartet from Birmingham are nearly there. Currently seventh when you search them on Google, if they can manage to usurp Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster blueprint they’ll know they have definitely made it. Isn’t that what any of us dream of? To be the top result on Google? I know it’s what keeps me up late at night. And bravo to them for not succumbing to the modern trend of misspelling your band name to ensure your spot as the top result alá Chvrches, Wavves, and Splashh. That plays havoc with my spell checker and in fairness JAWZ sucks.
On their debut album Be Slowly, released through Rattle Pop, JAWS are the epitome of modesty. This is a compliment. Their straightforward but ultimately addictive indie/shoegaze pop is endearingly earnest and unadorned by superfluous faff. This quality had been abundantly apparent on their succession of wonderful EP releases, but the concern was that while this strategy works wonderfully over a fifteen minute EP, would it sustain over the course of a full album? Resoundingly, the answer is yes.
It’s the ease with which they throw melody after melody at the listener that is most impressive. Title track “Be Slowly” with it’s Cure-esque riff and washed out vocals is a case in point. There’s a danger here that the song could dip into Robert Smith parody, but the melody is so strong and the performance so enthusiastic that they sound like contemporaries of The Cure, not plagiarists. “Gold”, which had been released as a stand alone single over a year ago, is another example. Here the band mine the well explored loudQUIETloud format. Their youthful abandon and way with a simple but infectious guitar riff make it a success. This is music made for a singalong.
The band, however, do not stick dogmatically to this route. “Swim” and “Surround You” introduce unexpected synths to the JAWS formula. It’s kind of like Chvrches remixing a long lost Cure b-side. Meanwhile “Home”, “Time”, and “Sunset State” offer a more oppressive, downbeat version of a band renowned for their playful, sunny shtick.
“Think Too Much” is their greatest success. Here the band comes into their own. Crafting a succinct, playful, and amusing straight up pop song that laments that time when you were at a party and didn’t have the gumption to approach the object of your affection standing on the other end of the room, the band sounds like they are truly their own creation. While the material on Be Slowly is hardly revolutionary and groundbreaking, it doesn’t have to be when the songs are this good. Not every new release has to be Kid A or good kid m.A.A.D. city, sometimes all we want to do is have a dance and listen to some stellar music. What’s wrong with that?