Album: Juicer – Retire The Fences

Released on May 10th, Retire the Fences, the new album by indie-rock magicians Juicer is a glorious reimagining of 90s guitar pop. Residents of Brooklyn, the band consists of Donovan Edelstein on drums, Carlo DiBiaggio on bass and Greg Crotty on additional guitar, led by front man and California native, James Pratley Watson. And a mighty fine noise they make! Taking inspiration from a Beach Boys lyric, the album’s name is an attempt to capture the thematic chains holding these songs together- those of departure and loss, of new horizons and old memories. It is a beautiful set of songs that repays repeated listening.

Trickin starts things off beautifully – all carefully double-tracked vocals and driving 90s indie-pop bounce, the melody dreamy and understated, the guitar solos subtly distorted and vibrating. There are lovely production details in the song’s quieter moments too and always that driving Brit-pop evoking, head-shaking beat propelling everything along. The music captures that lovely balance of positive, rhythmic energy offset by the subtle sadness that permeates the vocal lines, particularly in the chorus. The singing on this album, I should say, is utterly and consistently charming.

Family Man feels less influenced by 90s and more the preceding decade- there is a jangle to the guitar that feels indebted to the Smiths, the layered vocals adding in occasional enriching harmonies. It is the beautiful nature of that voice that really lifts things though, lending a natural grace to each moment, the drums still driving everything along with a potent energy. Let Go shows broader brushstrokes and more shoegazesque atmospheres, the vocals still choral and clear but offering occasionally more abrasive edges reflected in the more cacophonous racket of the massed, distorted guitars. The melody is reminiscent, to these ears at least, of Heatmiser, the simple fuzzed up guitar soloing adding to the discordant ambience.

There’s a romantic, faintly nostalgic glow to the whole thing – the influences of the music of decades since past is clear and the deft haze of the singing adds to the dreamlike quality. It feels like a memory of a movie watched as a child, where the sun always seemed to shine and beads of sweat hung in stolen time from beautiful faces. Strawberry life feels slightly wonkier, the guitars wobbling more tremulously, but those gentle vocals are as beautiful as ever – the bass too thrumming spiritedly throughout the mix. Bomb feels more angular, raging at times but still playing those quiet/loud dynamics effortlessly.

At only 8 tracks long, Retire the Fences is an album that doesn’t hang around long but in its 30 minutes, it doesn’t waste a second.

Written by M.A Welsh (Misophone)