On Friday, March 15th (next Friday!), OVRLD is partnering with Sweet Tea & Pumpkin Pie, among others, to be a part of their West 6th Block Party and bring you a lot of fantastic bands that you can see for FREE! It will be at Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar from 11am to 2am – 15 hours of rock! We’re honestly very excited, and only one of the reasons for our excitement is Bobby Jealousy playing at 8pm. One of my favorite records of last year, A Little Death was an incredible debut that I imagined would be hard to follow up. And yet, almost exactly a year later, Bobby Jealousy have released The Importance of Being Jealous and proved that they will be able to keep the momentum going.
The short version: Importance is not as good as Little Death, but it’s still really, really good. It’s like the Reckoning to Little Death‘s Murmur or the Radio City to Little Death‘s #1 Record. It’s following up an epic, amazing record and doesn’t quite get there, but stands on its own right quite well.
One of the main differences between these two is in the progression of the band. Little Death was a collection of different songs from three different talented songwriters: Seth Gibbs, Sabrina Ellis Gibbs and Mark Stoney. They were influenced by each, but had distinct voices. On Importance, Gibbs and Ellis (a married couple) have clearly become much more comfortable writing with each other. Some songs still clearly bear the mark of one more than the other – “If I Was Your Man” (Ellis) and “Children of God” (Gibbs), for example – but at other times, they sound seamlessly integrated. Tracks like “Bang Bang” or “Fall Asleep in Your Arms” feature tight harmonies and a trading off of vocal duties. This kind of stylistic synthesis makes for a much more cohesive album from start to finish.
The songs themselves are also largely fantastic. While there aren’t as many standout tracks as before, there are also fewer skip-able songs. “25 Years” is a bluegrass-influenced romp (complete with quasi-yodels) that covers a lot of ground in its 2:17. After three verses, the chorus hits with its unison singalong and interweaving vocal lines. It repeats over and over as it morphs into an outro that doesn’t look back to what came before. Lead single “The Agreement” is even shorter, and draws instead from pre-Motown Sixties R&B to sunnily address potential troubles in a relationship. Album closer “The Right Side” draws from early acoustic Dylan to portray a gorgeous kiss-off song that seems like it’s been a part of the American Songbook for decades.
The album as a whole uses the past to examine the present. It sounds very much of a piece with the times, while being heavily influenced by the Sixties, in particular (see the Stax doo-wop of “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” for example). “Baby I’m Down” shows Gibbs indulging his Nineties side, and “A Brand New Day” pulls a bit more from the Seventies’ piano-oriented pop-rock. Not every song works, though. “Children of God” is an oddly pious folk number that never quite gets where it’s going. “Shipwrecked” has a nice string arrangement, but doesn’t allow the band to get to its customary level of energy until about two minutes in. And “We Don’t Need to Know” is kind of like an outtake from Little Death, especially for its lyrical theme. But none of these are bad songs, per se.
The entire album is probably best summed up in “There’s Nothing You Can Do About It” – a revue-style rave that sprints from start to finish and is filled with love and joy. It’s quintessential Bobby Jealousy, and illustrates all the reasons why fans of the band love them. This is definitely an album to get and a band on the rise. And you can catch them at OVRLD’s showcase at Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar on Friday March 15th at 8pm.