There’s a sticker on the front of the beautifully designed (as you would expect from a Lemon Jelly/Airside) package. It says: “This is our new album. It’s not like our last album.” And for the most part, this is definitely true of Lemon Jelly’s latest long player. If you’re wondering what the title means, it simply stems from the fact that each track is built around a single sample. The earliest track sampled is from 1964, and the most recent is from 1995, hence ’64-’95. Simple really.
So in what way is it different? Well it soon becomes apparent that this is a darker album. Well, it’s got a hint of mischievous evil to it at any rate. Not least because the almost whispered intro as an old man seems to recounting a bygone tale encourages you to crank up the volume. Then no sooner have you done this, the aggressive ’88, also known as Come Down on Me sends a warning salvo into your ear canal. Ouch! Basically, don’t be expecting to hear to many ‘Falderalderaldas’ this time round. You should know that much. Try to put this album on in the background of your life at your peril.
But the first track is deliberately in contrast to what one might think of as the ‘Lemon Jelly sound’. It’s not all quite so hyped up, but the intense organs and distorted guitars of the blistering opener can’t help but set the tone. Partly because of the shock value, it’s actually a bit of a relief when the slightly more laid back Only Time swells around you. An acoustic guitar can be heard gently arpeggiating around the edges of the warm but still driving beat. A warbled sample of John Rowles lamentably singing ‘if I only had the time’ reverberates and bounces around like the ‘ball’ in the ancient Pong videogame.
In fact, by Don’t Stop Now, it’s almost as if the Jellys have forgotten to pace themselves. That first track may have just been a cherryade-fuelled skid on your knees, ruining your Chinos at the school disco moment, and now they’re out of puff. But even if Don’t Stop Now is slow-paced, it still builds and builds. The album is gathering momentum for the middle stretch, and at the end of the track it flowers suddenly into a sugary kaleidoscope. Mmmmm…this is sweet stuff.
But before we fall into the trap of describing the album track by track, the main thing to consider is that this is as much fun as you’d hope a Lemon Jelly album would be. And even though it is actually the next track, ’95, aka Make Things Right really must get a mention. It’s the sound of July defrosting your chapped lips stuck in the middle of a chilly January. A sampled Terri Walker only wants to make things right, apparently, and in combination with the impeccably judged walking bass line, and bubblicious instrumentation she certainly manages it. It’s not even February and the first track for your barbecue compilation has already been taken care of.
But don’t get too comfortable just yet, because over the course of the album you’ve also got The Shouty Track, which does pretty much what it says on the tin, and then the feisty Go which closes proceedings. With a sample from a certain William Shatner no less, it’s a spacious road-trip of a track, layered with mystery and subtlety amid the dramatic noise. This track perhaps demonstrates most clearly the depth that Lemon Jelly are clearly capable of, and have decided to accentuate on this album. Even if at times it still feels like they’ve soaked the music in a Radox bath, and in a good way, like all great production it’s that extra attention to detail that makes it sound so damn right. Fred Deakin and Nick Franglen are as good as they ever were, and most importantly, they’re also braver. If nothing else, this is an object lesson in how sampling can be at the heart of a really rich and inventive art form, not just the topping on a recipe for being ‘a bit cool’. And besides, any album that can use a short sample from Sensitivity by Ralph Tresvant and spin a brilliant song out of it simply has to be in your collection. The end.
Record Label: XL Recordings