[sic] Magazine

Redjetson – Other Arms

The circumstances in which music is heard can fundamentally influence how it’s perceived. Take the new album by now-defunct English band Redjetson. First I was in the car, stereo cranked. ‘Other Arms’ sounded phenomenal, the epic guitar surge rendering my journey emotionally as well as literally transporting. When you’re driving it’s hard to concentrate on the details in the music, but on a superficial level I was deeply impressed, eager to hear more. The songs of the first half flowed into one another beautifully and the second half introduced some variety.

Next up, the home stereo while making dinner. Again, a huge sound. Individual tracks started to stand out, most notably ‘Questions I Don’t Want To Ask’. The quality of the production really shines when you give this sucker some air. The guitars growl and chime, the bass at the start of ‘Beta Blocker’ sounds way-cool, and the drumming is great. Parts reminded me of early Interpol. But while cranked, Clive Kentish’s lyrics and melodramatic vocal delivery, akin to a young Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode, started to irritate. Take the start of ‘For Those Who Died Dancing’: “Breathe with me / As I take you down / This empty street / It’s what I want to do”. Sixth-form poetry anyone? I started to fear for Redjetson’s longevity in my affections. Any band that reminds me of ’90s indie-rockers Marion doesn’t stand much of a chance for long.

Then headphones. This is where the album really came undone for me. Once you start to navigate your way through the wall-of-sound guitars, there’s not a lot underneath to warm to. There’s no sense of humour or respite from the detached emoting and ponderous minor-key sturm und drang. Admittedly, the second half introduces some welcome space into the mix, allowing the intertwining guitar parts and nimble drumwork to breathe (‘These Structures’ is a good closer), but more often than not, the space is filled with fucking glockenspiels. It’s like spotting a good-looking, intelligent stranger from the opposite side of the room and then realising once you start talking to them that they’re too self-absorbed to connect with. You like being seen with them and they occasionally make you feel good, but there’s no love, just detached admiration.

Ultimately, on ‘Other Arms’ you can hear why these guys decided to call it quits. They probably grew out of this particular style of suburban-grey indie mopery that often appeals to bookish teens. While I’ll grant that the sheer force of the music and excellent production render some of the songs occasionally revelatory (hence the reasonable score), this distracts you from scrutinising the music’s deeper flaws. Once you spend more time with Redjetson, ultimately you realise that it’s time better spent elsewhere.