With all eyes and ears being on Godflesh and their resurrection recently one could have forgotten about Jesu and the fact that Justin Broadrick has his own more reflective project. I rued the day that Godflesh split having been a big fan of all their material and seen them live quite a few times. I cannot say I was enamoured when they decided to get back together and found a lot of built up hype being spread about the reformation and as ever a lot of it by bandwagon jumpers who had never really been aware of the band before they split. Jesu had filled a void when Justin formed them and it seems like time has really flown when I realise that it was 9 years ago I dipped into their Heart Ache EP and self-titled first album and reviewed them and caught the band at a couple of excellent shows (the 2005 French Fury Fest show particularly stuck in my memory).
I cannot say I have followed the band who notably also include Ted Parsons of Godflesh on drums constantly but have found myself dipping in and out of their material when it catches my radar. Having now got fully immersed in this poetically entitled new album I feel like I should go back and track down more of their back catalogue as I have probably missed some very good material. It’s been a couple of years since ‘Ascension’ one of those albums that I did miss but the second play is pressed here and the gorgeous tones of ‘Homesick’ take form I feel like I have well…. come home. For me this sounds like quintessential Jesu if such a thing exists. The melody is rich and instantly identifiable and the post punk, Indie, shoe gaze vibe is glorious and uplifting. Vocally it is full of passion, yearning and dare I say heartache and I simply have not been able to stop playing this, the video clip that recently landed making it even more compulsive. If like me though you were not a constant follower of the band, good as it is, you may well think that their journey has not taken them in any new directions. As the rest of the album goes on to show however that is not the case at all.
‘Comforter’ wraps around you like a safety blanket with warm toasty tones and some backwards masked sliding effects putting you in a hazy daze and a bit of a daydream. It’s not like anything I have really heard before from the band although musical melodic nuances are certainly identifiable. Vocals when they finally arrive have some weird echoing effects on them making them sound somewhat otherworldly or distorted like you are listening to them in a drugged up state. For some reason I am reminded a bit of New Order by them here and in all it’s an odd track that I am both comforted by and contorted into a sense of unease. There’s almost a wind up box melody fuelled by a child-like innocence and sense of wonder to ‘Everyday’ I guess you would have to hear it for that to make sense but the lush feel to the harmony is again completely uplifting and along with the vocals pitched at just the right point, not completely soaring but giving the impression they are about to, this is another perfect joyous worshipful track necessitating praise to Jesu.
However it is the 17 minute backbone of the album that things are set up for and ‘The Great Leveller’ is a bold title to go with it. Piano and strings (the latter provided by Nicola Manzan) take us in and the lilting concerto effect builds gradually up with drums slowly joining and adding to the calm unrushed tones of the piece. Guitars glisten like sunbeams and you are well and truly in full gaze mode now. Then bam, we are levelled by a heavy crunching sound as everything comes in its still slow but it pounds with Diarmuid Daltons bass tones being particularly weighty. Vocals are given a vocoder effect and I have to admit for me that just does not work here and brings to mind too many terrible chart acts that the sheep download and play on their latest crass technology. Rant aside I am pleased when they finish and the song moves into its second movement at the half way mark. Lone guitar chords are joined by dreamy percussion and strings and we are again floating as the orchestral parts take over. A maudlin guitar tone takes over and a gothic feel is embraced in an autumnal fashion and we crunch into the last part with rising vocals and a real sense of urgency about things. As you can tell by this description there is a lot going on here emotionally everything is taken into consideration. It probably is a good idea that the album is left to conclude with a much shorter instrumental piece ‘Grey Is The Colour’ as any more vivid hues have already been dramatically painted.
Aside from very slight personal annoyance Everyday… is a great album to lose oneself in and lasts just the right length for me. It has given me one of the most addictive songs I have heard in recent memory too with that compulsive opener and I have a feeling that particular song is going to be played a lot and I am sure there will be plenty of times when the rest of the album follows hot on its heels.
(8/10 Pete Woods)