Pop can come in all different shapes and forms. From bubblegum pop to offkilter experimental pop, there's a lot of ground covered. Indie pop falls somewhere in between, and Jagwar Ma is right here with it. Their new album Every Now & Then falls even further into the center, not deviating from its own standard.
The simplest - and fairest - description of this album is boring. It has moments that spark intrigue but doesn't capitalize on anything. It's a collection of songs with no aim or direction, with not a single song having a satisfying climax. It starts deceivingly hopeful with intro instrumental 'Falling', the atmospheric synths beeping and blooping as the track slowly builds up (the only real buildup on the entire record). It leads into the devastatingly disappointing 'Say What You Feel' that doesn't know if it wants to be a surf rock song or psychedelic pop. This song is overall poorly written, poorly structured, and just plain poorly executed as a whole. It has too many different parts and tries to encompass to many ideas within it's unfulfilling six-minute run.
The poppier tracks on the record don't really have much hype to them, either. 'Give Me A Reason' introduces a cool beat that's quickly put off by an awful keyboard tone as the vocals croon pretentiously. It's clearly a lighter track, yet it just sounds odd as a whole. They end up sounding like a robotic, emotionless version of Bruno Mars in 'Loose Ends', which has groove but misses meat. The groove is reintroduced in the stronger track 'Ordinary', which actually had some swagger to it and holds its spot as one of the only cohesive tracks on the record. The chorus is a bit too dreamy for the song's own good, but at least the rest of it holds up.
'Batter Up' continues the cycle, sounding equally driven. The album starts falling into this pit of repetition, though. Everything pretty much sounds the same as something else on the album as the second half rolls in. Where there is u uniqueness, there is oddness, and not in a good way. The most prominent example is 'High Rotations', its slightly eastern vibe paired with a bouncing, droning bass. It's unsettling nature doesn't mesh well with the rest of the record, let alone with the band.
The thing I don't get about this album is the same as what this album doesn't get about itself: what is it meant to be? Every song tries to be something vastly different, bouncing between surf rock, minimalist synthpop, and just regular sounding pop - none of which are done well. They throw on sound after sound and try idea and idea without really developing any of them. You can tell they wanted a big, synthetic ending with 'Colours Of Paradise', its synths building up at parts of the song before being punched out of others after being introduced. There simply just isn't progression to make the songs cohesive or enjoyable. It lacks any substance.
It's good for a band to want to escape the norm, but taking things and mashing them together aimlessly is not the solution, and that's where Jagwar Ma went wrong with Every Now & Then. I can honestly say there was not a single great song on this record. There were plenty of okay ones and some that had potential, but most were just flops. Before they approach their next record, they need to get a grasp of what they are, because for now they're amidst a horrible identity crisis.
Favorite Track: If I had to pick one; Ordinary
Least Favorite Tracks: High Rotations, Say What You Feel, Loose Ends, Give Me A Reason
Rating: 44 / 100