Jaye Jayle’s new album Prisyn is out now via Sargent House.
I’m not too proud to say that I didn’t get this album at first. The first couple of lyrics, “Where darkness meets the lightness, or rather where the lightness meets the darkness” sent my unaccustomed eyes into powerful rolls. Uninitiated was I into the unique worlds conjured out of Jaye Jayle’s intoxicating goth folk sound. I thought – for a short while – that I had heard this kind of thing before, done better, and I was hoodwinked by the nature of the stark lyrics into thinking that the album would be a comically shallow contrivance, designed to sound profound.
I am glad to say that it didn’t take me long to learn that I was wrong. Of course, I have heard things in the same vein as Prisyn – there is nothing new under the sun – but the album has an appealing individuality to it that helps it to stand out and be remembered. There is an awkward and uneasy frankness to the lyrics that is often surprising and at times borders on foolish but is always endearing. The production on the album is quite simple but is of high quality, and there is always something unusual going on to listen to – be it the lyrics or the music.
I find that this album retains and deepens the listener’s interest and attention in a very natural and dignified way, without resorting to cheap entertainment or desperate stunts in order to do so – as so much music with an outlying quality is guilty of. The quasi-biographical nature of the lyrics and the unsettled temperament of the music complement each other well and create a sense of uncertainty and tension. The album is well balanced, despite being tumultuous – even bizarre. It has clearly been prepared with a lot of care and attention, but the kinks that give it its character haven’t been ironed out.
Without wishing to name any of them, it is clear that this album is heavily influenced – even pays homage to – some popular artists of yesteryear. That being said, it is unmistakably contemporary and never leans so heavily on these influences that it loses any of its own unique style. It has an anachronistic feel to it but doesn’t feel like a throwback, like watching Blade Runner 2049 on VHS.
If I were to pick one track from the album that most adequately sums up its appeal it would be ‘The River Spree’. It tells the story of our protagonist walking around Berlin (possibly on acid), giving some money to street performers, going for a drink, asking the bartender where the hotel he was trying to get to was, finding out he was already in the hotel, and receiving a key from the bartender – who didn’t seem to question what was going on. Not the most enthralling travel story, but the song frames it with so much drama and intrigue that it is impossible not to be taken away by it.
It seems that a lot of artists conceal their ineptitude behind a screen of weirdness, taking something mediocre and dressing it up in such a way as to try and fool listeners into thinking that there is something worth working towards under the surface. Jaye Jayle’s Prisyn has something worth working towards under its surface – and is certainly weird – but seems to conceal no ineptitude. It is a well-crafted and professional piece of work that seems worthy of respect whether it is enjoyed or not. It’s brazen and sharp nature may repel easy listeners, but it will certainly resound with those with an ear for it.