Jaguar Love – Hologram Jams (Music Review)

Hologram Jams cover

Jaguar Love - Hologram Jams

Spinning out of art-punk bands Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves, Jaguar Love seemed to be an attempt to bring a more accessible element to their distinctive sound. Given that it took me a full year to hear that they had released a second album, though, they apparently fell short of any popular appeal. On Hologram Jams, the band is reduced to just ex-Blood Brothers members, with Jay Clark replaced by a drum machine. Most of the Blood Brothers’ original spark is gone, as well.

Hologram Jams ups the ante on both the accessible and off-putting parts of Jaguar Love’s debut, opening up with a heavily electronic beat and a disco bombast. The Blood Brothers’ distinctively aggressive, stream of consciousness lyrics are largely replaced with simple celebrations of partying and youth. If these are meant to be parodies of vapid dance music, the band rarely lets on. A joke played straight for too long can cease to be a joke.

This approach shows some potential on the surprising “Cherry Soda”, which builds up through Whitney’s yowling “jaguar” vocals to a sudden white-guy-club rap: “Sugar-coated cherry soda/puking on the lawn./It’s six AM the party’s over./Everybody’s gone./Rode a motherfucking mastodon to my highschool prom/It’s on it’s on it’s on it’s on like Immigrant Song.” That glorious celebration of ridiculousness in a perversion of mainstream music is the album’s highlight, inviting the listener to laugh at and with the band at the same time. Otherwise, though, the album mainly features high-pitched yowling vocals on top of uninspired drum machine-and-synthesizer compositions.

Towards the end, the focus shifts to a couple slow, angsty songs, which are as embarrassing as the names (“Sad Parade” and “A Prostitute An Angel”) imply. These are the kinds of poems that most highschoolers have the sense to throw away a few years later. What possessed artists who used to be known for their challenging, non-traditional lyrics to publish this stuff? (Fans desperate for a Blood Brothers fix will find some relief in “Up All Night”, “Jaguar Warriors”, and “Evaline”, but they’ll need to pretend that those are just the throwaway tracks from a better album.)

Hologram Jams is dominated by obstinate attempts to insist that Jaguar Love and their music are awesome, despite all evidence to the contrary. The rare times that the curtain is lifted and we see beyond that shallow surface, nothing is there.

Grade: D

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