It’s taken eight years for Jackson Fourgeaud, AKA Jackson and His Computerband, to follow up his debut album ‘Smash‘. First arriving in 2003 with the single ‘Utopia’, which was still reverberating in the blue bubbles of the O2 ads some years later, Fourgeaud’s playful, yet skillfully produced electronica made most peoples top 20 Warp records releases. But with a lot of time passing in between, does ‘Glow’ see Fourgeaud hit the mark again?
Kicking off the album, ‘Blow‘ feels unusually traditional in arrangement, and goth-like in flavour. Apart from some interesting vocal processing, the track doesn’t stay with you for long, nor rekindle any of the spirit of his former efforts. Thankfully ‘Seal‘ starts where ‘Smash‘ left off, combining snappy snares, warm modulated pads and cut-up vocal samples, this should have been the opener. Fourgeaud certainly seems to be making an emphasis on “Band” this time around, delivering ‘Dead Living Things’, another dark, gothy number, with distant bells, big snares and fuzzy distorted bass lines. Followed by ‘G.I. Jane (Fill Me Up)‘, an awkward French pop song, that stands out for all the wrong reasons, with only ear sucking compression hinting at its maker.
Epic bass lines rumbling with double-digit HZs, a chorus of female vocals, and droning synths, makes up ‘Orgysteria’ and reminds us of the sonic worlds Fourgeaud is capable of imagining. ‘Blood Bust’ is an altogether harder affair, with a pounding, relentless beat and aggressive synths, Fourgeaud lets you catch your breath half way through for much of the same in the second half. Featuring vocals from Anna Jean, ‘Memory’ contains plenty of melancholy and warmth, but not enough fun or experimentation to draw you in. Thankfully ‘Arp #1’, a modular delight of pads, bleeps, and as you’d expect, arpeggios, is set to a toe-tapping beat, and delivers enough synthesiser to keep it interesting.
A bit like Justice forgot to bring their distortion pedal, (it’s even got the grandiose brass sections), ‘Pump’ again sees Fourgeaud produce an almost danceable disco number, but with thin hooks and bitty arrangement you’re left a bit cold. ‘More’ brings out Fourgeaud’s playful side, with interesting vocal layers, chirpy fairground loops and crunchy live bass. The album peaks with ‘Vista’, tight, interesting drum programming, uplifting melodies, and wistful vocals, this is the track you’ll skip to time and time again. Ending on an industrial note ‘Billy’ starts with military grade snare rolls, glitchy loops and whistley samples, but even with the track in full swing the distant, acidy lead lines don’t offer a decent send off.
Throughout ‘Smash’ Fourgeaud expertly hinted at melodies and rhythm, keeping the listener on the back foot. What felt like essence of goth or pop has now become fully blown tracks, which doesn’t leave much to the imagination. ‘Smash‘ managed to hold itself together with experimentation and confident production, instead ‘Glow‘ leans heavily on a handful of traditionally written songs, but it’s the second vein running through the album that offers a Jackson and His Computerband fan a lifeline.
HBF Rating: 3/5