Review: JEFF The Brotherhood, 'Wasted On The Dream'
Squaring up with JEFF The Brotherhood at any time during its decade-long career has been mercifully simple: Come for the riffs, stay for the riffs. Not much more is asked of the listener; when you hit play, you enter into an agreement wherein they lay 'em down and you soak 'em up. Wasted On The Dream, the first new album from brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall (formerly of Be Your Own Pet) since 2012, holds all the earmarks of big radio rock. It's the sort of thing that alt-rock stations would've lived and died on in the '90s, and it's all because of the riffs. They generously blandish the duo's pop and stoner-rock ambitions, create illusions, and fill out the sound in ways a guitar/drums duo often can't.
Compare Wasted On The Dream to earlier JEFF projects, and you'll notice that the riffs have gotten bigger, slower, fuller and slicker, and cover the whole spectrum of the band's sound. Fleshed out with fat-sounding analog synths, and even a little Ian Anderson-esque flute in "Black Cherry Pie" ("Jeffro Tull"?), the Orralls do the work to write better songs, so that the songs in turn do more of the work. Ambitions to the temple of the FM dial work their way to the fore, particularly in "Coat Check Girl" and "Prairie Song," in which JEFF approximates a sun-baked, downstate version of Weezer. That sentiment thickens in "Black Cherry Pie," a head-banging, hair-shaking rocker with bubblegum hooks to get stuck in your locks. "Mystified Minds" and "What's A Creep" lay on the velocity for which JEFF The Brotherhood is known; both are huge, Mack-truck jams barreling downhill with no brakes.
Much can be said about the durability of the form JEFF plies, but the proof is all there in the sound, and in these guys' legacy: They haven't changed much because they don't need to. Beyond a personal satisfaction with this sound, the Orrall brothers have located its youth, and bathe in the Lourdes water siphoned from the source on a regular basis. In a sense, they've come up with a critic-proof formula, where the dissatisfied can chip at the band's unwillingness to change at all, yet the devotion to world-class riffs can't be ignored or underplayed. Hand, make horns; horns, meet sky.
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