If Jupiter’s two albums were siblings, their first, ‘Juicy Lucy’, would be the younger, more excitable one, full of the joys of life. That would then make their newly released album, ‘Bandana Republic’, the cooler, older brother, more mature and more sophisticated, the one with impeccable taste. That’s not to say ‘Bandana Republic’ isn’t fun, it is. But it’s more assured as Quarles and Amélie forgo their debut album’s impossibly sunny disposition for an album that has more texture, more highs, more lows, and generally more depth. The album’s opener is a case in point; a melancholic slice of French pop that brings to mind early Air. The tempo is then kicked up a notch with ‘Bandana’ a psychedelic love song that sees Amélie once again on imperious form, as her hushed vocals mingle between dreamy guitar licks and downbeat synth-lines. It’s an assured start to the album that sees the duo build from the bottom up rather than going straight for the jugular.
‘Celcius’ follows a similar path in that it’s a little sprightlier than what has come before, but it’s a natural progression, following a natural ebb and flow. It’s also the first track you can hear where Quarles is on vocals duties, and his inclusion gives the album an added depth and texture that was kinda missing with their first album. There’s also a nice call and response between the two as they gently begin to introduce a brighter synth palette to the album. Following on from that is ‘Do It’ the album’s first home-run, and a track that harks back to the duo’s first album. But, again, it’s not over-the-top; it’s balanced, as juicy kicks entwine with luminescent synths and Amelie’s sugary vocal range. And that’s the pattern that ‘Bandana Republic’ takes, you’ve got the DNA of ‘Juicy Lucy’ alongside a more mature musical outlook. ‘1523 Allesandro St’ is one of the album’s more vivacious moments, as the duo weave fuzzy synth-lines over gurgling basslines, countered all the while by Amélie’s unique vocal talents. It’s easily one of the album’s high-points; the perfect fusion of suave electronics and French pop.
The final third of the album is where it begins to really pick up steam, ‘Steady Rocking’ sees the album’s first foray into an instrumental-only track, and it’s a delight, as talkative synth-lines are paired-off with clattering drums and disco basslines. The album’s biggest highlight is ‘Tiki Night’; a dreamy slice of French pop that’s just as good as anything the duo has made before. It’s fun, upbeat, and provides the album’s final pay-off. And to be honest is worth the entry fee alone. Ultimately, ‘Bandana Republic’ is just the sort of follow-up album you’d have expected Jupiter to make, less glitzy in nature, it offers a greater range of styles and emotions than their debut. It’s more complex and that really allows Amélie and Quarles to really show-off how much they’ve matured musically since their fantastically gregarious debut album.
HBF Rating 4/5