Listening to some colorful, California indie pop on a chilly NYC afternoon seems entirely unsuitable. But with the exuberance that shines from the newly formed supergroup, JJAMZ (pronounced juh-jams), I can't help but use their album, Suicide Pact, as a mood lifter this afternoon.
You probably haven't heard of JJAMZ: but bear with me. We all know Maroon 5 (James Valentine), Bright Eyes/Rilo Kiley (Jason Boesel), Phantom Planet (Alex Greenwald), and the Like. Z Berg (lead singer of the Like) holds the reins with a flair of attitude and pop, without sounding like everyone else.
It seems almost too ironic that each member of JJAMZ met at a karaoke night in LA. Suicide Pact proves that pop music is capable of holding sheer authenticity. "Get What You Want" opens up the album with an upbeat ballad, which is backed by some seriously heavy guitar from Valentine.
The album's titled track "Suicide Pact" brings a sense of irony to the songwriting: "It came time to take our lives/ You turned your back on the suicide pact/ And left me dancin' with the dead." The music encompasses uplifting qualities and sounds like a juxtaposition to the words, which in this case works perfectly.
However, the strongest points of Suicide Pact don't appear until the middle of the album with "LAX" and "Cleverly Disguised." "LAX" is a vocal collaboration between Z Berg and Greenwald. It's the first track that you feel JJAMZ as a powerful supergroup. Their harmonies sound so raw against the plush pop backing, it's a wonder why Greenwald didn't add more vocals on the album.
"Cleverly Disguised" also features Greenwald and Z Berg going exchanging verses. The lyrics take on an entirely new dimension as Greenwald declares "Burn me alive, avert your Pagan eyes/ Oh, even the good one's lie." It just simply portrays the beauty of helplessness and pettiness in a relationship, jam-packed with clever word choice, and it's decorated with outstanding guitar and percussion sequences. Is there much more we could ever need from an indie pop song?
JJAMZ's Suicide Pact lifts you to a utopian, warm California with its carefully threaded fresh pop, without bringing in an overdose of familiarity. It's just the kind of musical medicine you need as you head into a long winter.