A pulsating percussion enters the fold and forges an acrylic backdrop for Jas Frank to colorize with her stoic lyricism in “Unlight the Light,” but it isn’t until a feverish guitar lick starts to infect the verses with its swagger that we start to hear what the Intoits can really do when they’re at their most creative. In this track and the nine that join it on Jas Frank & the Intoits’ first record, The Girl from Cherry Valley, ethereal string play and blistering vocal virtuosity come as standard features, and comparing the caliber of this content to anything in commercialized pop just wouldn’t be fair to the mainstream.
Lush lyrics drive “Virtual Friends,” “High in Space” and “In Early Mornings,” and to a large extent, define the aesthetics of this LP better than any of the other songs do. Their verses amount to postmodern poetry when we strip them away from the music, and all of them are as chic as any of the highbrow grooves framing them are. The title track and “Human Animal” have a vibrant cosmopolitan sway that I’d love to hear the band explore more in the future, but it doesn’t overpower the more unelaborate tracks here, like “In a Hole,” in the least.
Jas Frank & the Intoits utilize really experimental song structures in “All the Highs All the Lows,” “High in Space,” the title track and “When the Rain Stops,” but their eccentric material is balanced out by more streamlined songs like “In a Hole,” “Unlight the Light” and “In Early Mornings” awesomely. The Girl from Cherry Valley flows exceptionally well from beginning to end, and although I’ve probably listened to it at least a half dozen times without any interruptions from the outside world, I’ve found that each session reveals yet another layer of emotion in each of these multifaceted tracks.
The textures in this music are telling us as much of a story in the record as the words are, and you could actually say the same for the visuals in the music video for “All the Highs All the Lows” as well. The Intoits don’t weigh down the imagery in the video with a lot straightforward depictions of the lyrics, but instead favor a more dreamlike approach to the plot that creates an additional moodiness in the music that wouldn’t be present otherwise. It’s not the most theatrical music video that I’ve ever seen in my life, but that’s precisely what makes it such a fetching piece of artistry.
The Girl from Cherry Valley is riddled with haunting hooks and just enough sleek polish to satiate the needs of the pop crowd, a jarring physicality and mind-bending melodicism that will attract the attention of rockers, and an erudite construction that already has critics like myself eagerly awaiting a follow-up from Jas Frank & the Intoits. I’ve heard some pretty entrancing experimental records from around the world this year, but no one in the European spectrum is doing what this talented trio of Croatians is doing in the studio at the moment. Their story is just starting to unfold, and no matter what they do next, I’d recommend keeping a close eye on this band.
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