Sadder still to report that—although suddenly there's a plethora of great albums being released (or, more accurately, that I'm finally catching up with)—what's rocked my world most of late is Jellyfish's 1993 album , which sounds like the punchline to some kind of prototypical record-snob joke about obscure bands with horrible names.
I've been looking out for this for a while; Jellyfish's rotating cast included Jon Brion on this album when Jason Falkner stepped out.
Brion's since become one of the only film-score names anyone knows, but Falkner is almost as talented, one of those behind-the-scenes movers and shakers whose multi-instrumental talents means he's one of the rare guys who can play every part on his albums.
Unfortunately, college radio preferred the Elephant 6 collective for their pop needs, which means I'll have to keep insisting is some kind of genius missing link.This is an album that truly lives up to the inevitable reference points to triangulate by; in this case, hysterical multi-tracked vocals and vicious guitar solos straight from Queen alternate with dreamy harmonies and harpsichords from Brian Wilson's vintage playbook.“Hush” opens things in the latter mode before crashing into “Joining A Fan Club,” the kind of massive song that's either overbearing or exhilarating, depending on where you're sitting.“Sebrina, Paste and Plato” has a kids' choir and a Fountains of Wayne-bouncy chorus.Amazingly, Jellyfish appear to have landed on MTV in the middle of the grunge era (no, they did not prosper), as the appropriately trippy video for “New Mistake” indicates.
About that grunge thing: obviously Jellyfish broke at the wrong moment (though it continues to amaze me that this supremely accessible genre continually meets with complete indifference from the American public).But vocalist/drummer Andy Sturmer seems to have been acutely aware of the situation, which feeds into the surprisingly above-average lyrics.Check out the fierce “The Ghost At Number One,” with its titular ghost “shooting up his poison.” Cobain also makes a lyrical cameo on the last track, the 6-minute-plus barn-burner “Brighter Day,” which absolutely nails its bid for “A Day In The Life” status.Key lines here: “Can't you see that you can come as you are, as you were / If you prefer you can change.” (Sturmer sings the same vocal line in the same key no less.) Sly rebuke or tribute? Despite his CSNY appearance, Sturmer is blessed with the kind of clear, bright voice that nowadays would probably have him conscripted into some horrid emopunk band before he'd landed the first snare hit.On the gorgeous “Bye Bye Bye” (you should watch this video to revel in the band's retro-tastic appearance), Jellyfish create one of those gorgeous songs that's too acute to be truly sappy.The chorus might be a simple reconciliation—“singing bye bye bye bye bye bye bye, cuz I've come to take you home”—but it's earned with the bittersweet line “they both think back to long ago, when thoughts of them both growing old had given them the gray hairs they deserve,” which is worth any half-a-dozen , which is correctly being hailed as their best album.