by tom johnson
We posed a question on Twitter recently, asking people who the best live act was that they’d seen over the past few months. Somewhat surprisingly, given the size and scope of potential answers, around 50% of people said Sitcom. If you’re sat reading this on UK shores then you might well be following that up with a question of your own: Who? However, despite a full leap across the pond thus far, those who keep a keen eye on the U.S bedroom-pop scene will probably be aware of Jake Lazovick’s talent; one of those precocious, prolific acts that the country seems to have an abundance of, now and forever.
It’s reassuring to know that Lazovick makes for a remarkable live proposition, because his music, both on new album Gig Bag and the abundance of releases that preceded it, is rarely chiselled and finely-tuned – two things that don’t always equate to a memorable performance, but can help in myriad ways. It’s true to say, though, that there’s certainly a buried strain of implacable magic to his work, the kind of half-buried feeling you’re unsure of where it came from, or where it belongs, but which constantly tugs at you from the very heart of his weirdly wonderful songs.
The new record does this from the outset. Opening track ‘Crumbs‘ is a seven-minute opus led by that weird baritone and informed by an ever-shifting backdrop of bedroom-beat percussion and occasional spikes of colourful additions that leap in and out focus like radiant burst of colour through the imposing fogginess of it all. Setting the tone for the rest of the record, the sprawling, dream-like persuasion of Crumbs is indicative of the over-riding tone, even in the shorter, more immediate moments that are also present. ‘Wind Blows‘ is a poignant ode to sentimental displacement, with pretty keys and finger-click percussion, ‘Green Fleece‘ feels like a distorted-nightmare version of some lost Prince song, then there’s the six-and-a-half minute ‘Ice Water‘ which might well be the record’s stand-out moment; a focused, affecting ramble that rolls on and on until it feels ingrained in to the fibres of your own day/year/history. It takes a special kind of track to have that kind of effect and rarely does it comes from weird-pop reclines such as this.
There’s nothing particularly comfortable about the worlds that Sitcom creates and invites us in to, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be comforting. Like suddenly finding a restful nook on the most jagged of rocks, there are gaps within this tightly-woven landscape where everything suddenly falls in to place, where these oddities feel warm and embracing rather than scorched and distorted – and if it isn’t those sweet, short moments of pleasure among the mess that makes this whole merry-go-round worth dealing with then I don’t know what it is.
Gig Bag is out now. Download it here, via Bandcamp.
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