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Jeniferever – Choose A Bright Morning (2006)

“Dear Emily
Stay with me as the day is dying”

Like a ghost ship emerging out of a sea fret, opening track ‘From Across The Sea’ materialises before us. This hazy, shimmering slice of ephemera spoke volumes about the entire long-player to follow. This is the sort of material lesser bands might select to close their albums. That Jeniferever chose it as both single and album opener is insightful. It wouldn’t be the only time the band would subvert listener expectations.

Sweden’s Jeniferever were marketed as a post-rock band. This is understandable given the era and not inappropriate given the intricacies of Martin, Olle and Kristofer’s amorphic guitarwork. I recall at the time likening the group to Sigur Rós and Mogwai. Every other critic duly followed. It is a comparison I know frontman Kris found tiresome. (He’d; “never even listened to Sigur Rós”, he told me. He “preferred Nick Drake”) In retrospect the comparisons were both apt and inept. What Jeniferever did share with those two mighty exponents is a reverence for chiming guitars, chords that somehow go right to the very essence of sound. If I had to live inside a piece of music ‘The Sound Of Beating Wings’ would be a tough choice to top.

We do not speak of ‘songs’ when we speak of Mogwai, nor even tracks sometimes. Theirs are pieces, like classical movements. Jeniferever were similar: their works, compositions. However our Swedes probably owe a greater debt to sensitive alternative rock and Emo rather than mere post-rock. Looking back, I see closer peers being the likes of Appleseed Cast, American Football and Mineral. There are even progressive leanings akin to bands such as Mew. Like the Danes, pop structure is evident on Choose A Bright Morning, but often eschewed for more exploratory passages. Each surprising turn tends to take us somewhere magical. Witness the gear shift half way through ‘Swimming Eyes’. It’s deceptively innocuous, but by the time the track hits its final two minutes we are propelled by something far more forceful. Calm seas suddenly become powerful currents that we no longer master. We are simply swept along, our hearts surging in unison with the music.

Most tracks ebb and flow in this manner. Themes emerge, songs evolve and segue off somewhere ‘else’. (The second half of ‘Winter Nights’ is almost an entirely different piece altogether.) Once you become familiar with the album, and more crucially to where you’re being taken, the earlier passages adopt an entirely different meaning.

Anticipating the climax can heighten the foreplay.

“Has it ever crossed your mind
That this is just where you might end
That the last steps you take
Could be where you took your first
That the nights you spent forgetting
About in which city you were in
That they could be as bright as your memories
Will ever get”

Band

Band

Kristofer Jönson’s fragile vocals are more akin to spoken word poetry, which is apt considering the weighty themes the album wrestles with. Jeniferever must have been quite young at the time and yet the material is surprisingly philosophical, albeit with that YA viewpoint. More than once, Jönson challenges someone (us?) to reflect upon a moment of youthful glory and asks the question, ‘Might this be as good as it gets?’

‘A Ghost In The Corner Of Your Eye’ is one of many that explore these themes, taking in also the relics and scars of failures past. ‘Couldn’t we simply escape it all?’ The song posits. Go somewhere else? Leave it all behind?

“The scenery of somewhere else
I wish things were that simple
That leaving solves everything
Departing covers mistakes you’ve made
The wrong turns you took years ago
Leaving solves everything”

Though for the most part painful and sad, the album is a lyrical triumph. Only ‘Magdelano’ bucks the trend by engaging a guest vocalist, Chris Leo, whose acerbic recital contains enough piss and vinegar to rival Brian Molko. Leo’s waspish delivery is curiously at odds with the Biblical text itself, but the stylistic shift sets us up nicely for the album’s climactic track ‘Opposites Attract’.

My own career as a music journalist was indelibly affected by this record. After contributing a mere handful of promo reviews to Atlanta webzine Evilsponge, Choose A Bright Morning was the first record I actually requested to cover. Two days later it arrived in my mailbox and twelve years afterwards the album remains an intrinsic part of my music loving life. I remember thinking to myself….I like this job!!! The guy that ran Drowned In Sound at the time kindly said my review was the best he’d read. It couldn’t have been, of course. I was naive and I rather gushed. I’m embarrassed to even read it now. The reason I even mention any of this is not a confessional. Rather I just wanted to convey to you my excitement at the time. Even now, I’d place Choose A Bright Morning in my top ten albums of that decade.

Jeniferever would go on to make two further albums, Spring Tides and Silesia, both of which are essential and document the Swedes’ evolution of their progressive leanings and their ‘full band’ sound. By the end they were mighty. (Imagine a Disintegration-era Cure running through a King Crimson set.) The wistful melancholia of Choose……….., however, remains their ‘lightning in a bottle’ moment. Where do you go after a masterpiece?

“The scenery of somewhere else?”

Jeniferever were:
• Kristofer Jönson: (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards)
• Martin Sandström: (Guitars, Backing Vocals)
• Olle Bilius: Bass, (Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals)
• Fredrik Aspelin: (Drums, Backing Vocals)

Thankfully most of them remain involved in music. Kris plays in I Break Horses as well as producing, Olle put music out as Calisota and Martin has his new project Drifter.

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My Albums of the ‘Noughties’ – decade round up (pictures lost)

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