England - Full Moon 88 - 12/08/03
These Acid Stars
J Xaverre (pronounced z-av-ier) is an ancient Mayan curse. We had Mr. Xaverres's second EP
Saturday on the menu a few moonths ago.
It wasn't cursed at all and we awaited the forthcoming album. After some logistic misunderstandings
in the Oslo area, here his debut album is finally served, at least one moonth late.
In the beginning I found the album less varied than expected. It's first and foremost a pure
pop album with some singer songwriter elements. Memphis
Industries claims "These Acid
Stars touches on all bases from John Martyn to The Incredible String Band to, yes, Paul McCartney's
early solo work". Apart from John Martyn I don't really know about that. To these ears,
there are neither many folk nor psychedelic leanings on the album. It's the production that really
stands out. Spiced with bits of discreet noise, if ever it existed, surprising instrumental sounds
and ditto mix. "Wild Weekend" for instance might have served as a straight singalong number, but
distorted vocals, rhythm patterns up front and sparse instrumentation during parts of the song make
it one of a kind. And at first I thought the quiet stormy sounds of the laid-back "Bingo Wings" were
something going on outside my window.
After some spinnings the 12 songs begin to crystallise in different shapes. I find the opening
track and previously reviewed "Saturday" off the aforementioned EP among the weakest. The title
track from J Xaverre's very first EP Great All Great on the other hand is a half ballad,
half power-pop goodie. The one-man-band is augmented with beautiful vocals by Lea Doherty on several
songs. Her divine voice on "Sports Day, 1983" has kept spinning in my head for a while. The string
quartet at the end of "Fires" also stands out. Exquisite! "Horse Operas" is great ballad stuff,
whereas "The Ballad of J Xaverre" is partly ballad and partly classic pop. "Nilsong" and "I Promised
Myself" are fine examples of the singer songwriter stuff with a twist. The only problem is the
lyrics. They're not printed in the booklet and not available on the Memphis home page either. I
haven't a clue what he is singing about.
The overall impression - and the electric piano and pace of "Stuck Between Daydreaming And
Somewhere Else" in particular - made me consider J Xaverre as a kind of English Steely Dan (without
the slick jazz-rock) for a different decade. These Acid Stars doesn't deliver quite what
the variety of the Saturday EP promised. Instead we're in for a full-blown cunningly played
and produced pop album for people beyond their teens. Which doesn't imply AOR, mind you!
Copyright © 2003 JP