Once in a while, someone enters your orbit who makes you wish you’d worked harder at making music, writing, painting and taking photos. And when I say “you,” I mean “me.”
This is because of this guy Jakob, whose new album, One True Soul, has just come out. It would be bearable if all he did was make great music at a prodigious rate, like a Canadian version of Prince (but with glasses). It might even be bearable if he also excelled at one other thing, like writing, or photography. But no, the Toronto-based Jakob really is Canada’s King of All Media. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you should.
Enough of my petty jealousy issues …
I was really surprised by One True Soul. I was expecting some kind of buzzy lo-fi shoegazathon. But Jakob, who appeared with me on the Big Bad Hair show a couple of weeks back, has crafted a remarkable recording that manages to pump out some serious energy without ever being big, loud or fast. And I like that. I like music that makes you stop what you’re doing so you can just soak it up, take in its subtle energy.
There are some elements of 80s gloom-pop roaming around these songs. I hear Smiths, I hear Cure. But it isn’t blatant, and those elements weave their way in and out of the songs gently and effectively. There is some trace of “shoegazing” here — it’s a word I actually don’t like, now that I’ve used it again — but if you’re expecting a depressorama, this isn’t it. The songs — Chinese Astrology, I Just Don’t Feel It and Done With Crazy are among my favourites — are short, smart and solid.
Jakob’s Urbane Decay made this record at the same time he was producing brilliant books, gorgeous art, frosty photos, two funky podcasts and maybe even a day job. The man is a media machine … he can come up with brilliant concepts in the course of a three-station subway ride, and I admire that to no end. That kind of balancing act can lead to mediocre output if an artist is stretched too thin, but that’s not an issue here. I have come to the conclusion that he just does not sleep.
There are thousands of CDs in my home. This one, this week, is at the top of the heap, and has been playing steadily.