Jaill is scrappy. Jaill is a belligerent zombie pet that won’t let dying get it down, with a different bone in its body for a myriad of decades and a multitude of genres. A (now) four piece born of Milwaukee yore that has undergone multiple line-ups and a label or two, with Vincent Kircher at the center and a penchant for dark lyrics layered across deceptively catchy tunes.
After self recording There’s No Sky (Oh My My) in an old Milwaukee funeral home (complete with a leftover basement body cooler), Jaill was signed to Subpop and swelled the ranks with two commercially well received albums – That’s How We Burn (2010) and Traps (2012). Jaill leveled up from the local scene to the national stage, underwent the inevitable band line-up switch and shake, left Subpop and landed at Burger Records. Now the persevering party of four (currently consisting of Kircher on vocals and guitar, John Mayer on bass and back-up vocals, Mike Skorcz on synth and Josh Evert on drums) have released 2015’s Brain Cream.
And it’s pretty solid.
Brain Cream is clacky and bratty, upbeat and unapologetically catchy with subtle surf, synth and psyche coated onto 80’s and 90’s sensibilities, with Kircher’s pinched Pixies-ish/Toadies-esque vocals and self defeating lyrics at the core.
Kicking off quickly with ‘Just a Lovely Day’, catchy as hell and already fulfilling a promise to engage, teasing with plucky guitar and clinky percussion. With lines like ‘Would you want me to hold you until your heart aches? I was wanting to fold you until your legs break’ showcase an early lean toward juvenile lyricism, pulled off in an unrelenting and nonabrasive matter. It’s snark that doesn’t make my eyes roll. Throw in a clacky solo and Brain Cream is off to a great start.
‘Getaway’ comes in second, softening the blow with a simple construction that keeps tempo up, building off ‘Lovely Day”s steam without trying to compete – it mostly just pairs well, with a repetitive burst of ‘I helped my loved ones get away’ that creates a simple, slightly self-loathing chorus. ‘Got an F’ comes third, maintaining this robust motif until tapering off into ‘Slides and Slips’, which hits you with a subtly trippy and off-kilter storybook vibe, throwing some subtle Animal Collective feels out.
‘Symptoms’ lends some distance and electronic fuzz while ‘Change Reaction’ gives a lush melody and some well placed harmony that I would have liked to have seen more of throughout the album. Not to mention a quick tease solo and shimmy-worthy moment where Kircher croons, ‘My love is going to de-de-de-destroy you again, destroy youuuu agaaaain’ followed closely by some cheeky ‘ba da da’s’, which is always a lovely way to juxtapose real emotion with flighty feeling.
There’s a multitude of emotional information available throughout Brain Cream – enough to paint a personal picture and conjure cranky visions of what life for the dudes in Jaill might be like. I choose to apply this principle to myself, canvassing what aspects I can relate to because 1) Every theme on this album is lightweight and relevant without being flimsy and 2) It’s better than taking a selfie. Brain Cream is not going to change your life, but it sure as hell will buoy up your summer.
Brain Cream is available from Burger Records on Cassette, Digital, CD & Vinyl. America!