Best Album of 2015 To: Put On When You’re Going Through An Identity Crisis

First Bite: “Gone”

Every time I listen to JR JR I am transported back to the first time I saw them live at a neighborhood street festival in Chicago. That setting almost perfectly describes their style for me. On a lazy summer night, a bunch of happy jumping fans are just looking to keep the good times rolling a little longer (before the city promptly shuts it down at 10 pm). The awesome feeling of nostalgia keeps me coming back to this album quite a bit, but it isn’t required. Even without experiencing that first hand you can get the sense of what these guys are about in their third full length album. JR JR is chock full of whimsical hooks and carefree melodies, but keeps you interested with funk and R&B tones mixed in.

“Gone” and “As Time Goes” are great to throw on with a group of friends. You will be hard pressed to find anyone in your squad circle that isn’t compelled to instinctively do the white-boy head bob from start to finish. I love to be the facilitator of a good time and to see people enjoying themselves. I think these guys feel the same way. Coming straight from Detroit to your speakers, they charm you into bouncing along to bright harmonies and catchy synth-pop. Listening to these songs remind me of warm fall weekend days spent playing yard games into the night.

“Philip the Engineer” appealed to me in contrast to most of the feel good nature of the album. The song explores the uncomfortable practice of admitting when things are broken and being the bearer of bad news. After being a part of a few tough decisions this year involving stopping work on long time projects that were near and dear to me, I could relate fully to both sides of this. It’s easy to resent people for wanting to give up and cut bait on something you care about, but when the role is reversed and you have to wear that hat, you can empathize with how tough it is to represent that point of view. And hey, how many songs do we get about the hardships of being a practical engineer? A new year and a new name, I like where this band is heading.

Matthew MacLean

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