By and large pop music tends to follow some pretty tried and tested templates. Most chart bound offerings fresh off the music industry production line seem to have more in common than the things that instead make them stand out from each other. Homogenisation thy name is modern pop music. But even if the creative benchmarks in the genre weren’t currently so low, Jaguar Grace, perhaps the coolest name in music, would still shine like a beacon in the murky musical night.
It seems that I’m doing her music a disservice by calling such brilliantly executed music pop, but pop it is, but it is also jazz infused, orchestral, cinematic and electronic driven. The fact that Jaguar Grace has had an accomplished career outside of pop music explains exactly why she is able to bring so much extra to the songs.This more classical background is used to lift the music into more theatrical, dynamic and dramatic realms, to create everything from sweeping waves of sound, sky scrapping crescendos, subtle break downs, roaring brass attacks and ambient background washes.
The two ends of the spectrum are highlighted by the fact that many of the songs have alternate versions taking the form of trumpet driven instrumentals or minimised sound scores which fall into a wonderfully beguiling baroque-pop area of the sort that we rarely hear today.
There is even room for haunting choral sections on the introduction to She Fell, the fact that such a gothic and dark piece is shot through with Stax horn stabs doesn’t seem as out of place as it appears on paper. After All is a jaunty and infectious piece and Artificial Heart reminds us of just how cool the harpsichord is.
For an album that mixes such seemingly mutually exclusive sound, one that plays with ideas and sound palettes from across genre and era, it isn’t as strange as you might imagine. It’s just that it plays with such brilliant musical melds and meshes that it might take a little time to adjust but it is done so brilliantly that by the time you put the album on for a second play you will be wondering why everyone doesn’t make albums this wide ranging and mercurial.