Recording information: Resonate Studio.
Milwaukee-based jangle poppers Jaill hit the reset button on their fourth LP Brain Cream, switching labels and losing two of their three members in the process. Now solely in the hands of singer/songwriter Vincent Kircher, the veteran band has returned to California imprint Burger Records (who had handled some of their earlier small batch releases) after making a pair of well-respected albums for Sup Pop in 2010 and 2012. The garage-centric Burger is actually quite a good fit for Jaill's quirky, upbeat guitar pop which manifests itself throughout most of Brain Cream's forty minutes. Light psych textures and bright synths add some nice layers to tracks like "Just a Lovely Day" and "Little Messages." Scrappy pop has long been Jaill's M.O. and Kircher piles on the handclaps, guitar hooks, and 60's organs on "Got an F" and "Picking My Bones." Despite the glum tone of many of the lyrics, this is still Jaill doing what they do best, proving that with Kircher as lone helmsman, their ship remains true. But, as clever as their riffy garage bangers are, Brain Cream isn't much of a departure from what they've been delivering in one form or another since 2009's There No Sky (My Oh My). The big exceptions here are "Slides and Slips" and "Draggin'," the two tracks which also happen to be the album's slowest and most introspective offerings. With it's neat acoustic riff, Wurlitzer piano, and shimmering synth backdrop, the beguiling "Slides and Slips" is a dreamy pop wonder, while "Draggin'," with its dark, snakey melody, is a splendidly melancholic bit of power pop balladry suggesting hidden depths in Kircher's writing that beg for further exploration. ~ Timothy Monger