Pitchfork (Website) - "The British experimental rock group Adult Jazz has no problem cramming their music with ideas and lofty goals."
Audio Mixer: Ben Baptie.
Recording information: The Nest, London.
After their ambitious debut album, Gist Is, English indie quartet Adult Jazz return less than two years later with Earrings Off!, an equally adventurous release that explores the topic of gender identity, stereotypes, and privilege. The clanking, creaking, fluttering title track kicks things off with bouncy rhythms and an unconventional, leaping melody in which lead singer Harry Burgess flits in and out of his falsetto. Like works by Talking Heads, Spoon, and Dirty Projectors, it's both quirky and infectious, falling into a poppy realm while even more boldly defying convention. The song's lyrics are inspired from childhood memories, including an incident when Burgess' brother and a male friend wore stickers on their ears like earrings and were teased by an adult. Later, "Eggshell" addresses gender issues with lyrics like "Maybe the language doesn't know what's going on" and "Let's talk, creature to creature." Like the title track, it's loaded with instrumental interjections from diverse timbres that clatter without cluttering. While still melodic, the more mechanical "Ooh Ah Eh" partly populates arrangements with processed vocal samples that at times become indistinguishable from stringed instruments and percussion. It's one of just seven tracks here, three of them short instrumentals. The band has avoided labeling Earrings Off! an album or EP (or worse, "mini-album"), though the experimental mix of strings, percussive objects, electronics, and sound manipulation on the short "Cry For" tracks lend a weighty, avant-garde presence that seems to merit major-work consideration. Like their debut, Earrings Off! is made up of uncompromising stuff that may take some adjusting to, but willing ears will find articulate, distinctive musicality that rewards repeat listens. It might even provide an unexpected earworm or two. ~ Marcy Donelson