Spare Snare return next week with ‘Our Jazz’ their tenth LP. Whilst they’ve never been a band to be described as lush ‘Our Jazz’ is such a focussed and lean record, that it almost sounds like it has been recorded by Steve Albini.
The arrangements are stripped back with a ruthless economy such that there’s not a note or sound wasted, whether it be the electronic fade-out to opening track ‘Answer’ or the distorted wah-wah guitar on ‘Zip-A-Dee’.
Snare main man Jan Burnett has described ‘Our Jazz’ as being unusually political on Twitter and it’s not hard to pick out some of the songs he’s meaning.
‘Zip-A-Dee’ certainly is a mean, nasty, brutish song sung from the point of the oppressor ( “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da/ Zip-A-Dee-Day / I’m gonna fuck your freedom / I’m gonna stop your play”) with its impact heightened by juxtaposing the vitriol of its words and arrangement with the Disney association.
There are other glimpses of that sort of anger throughout yet, by ‘Distinctly Obsolete’ near the end of the record, Jan seems to have almost attained a state of grace. Musically the song is as expansive as ‘Our Jazz’ gets with its laid backing vocals and languid bass lines but its refrain of ‘We didn’t ask for you / it’s time for you to go’ is delivered with such complete conviction that the anger’s gone.
The rest of the songs capture various moods in between these two extremes. ‘Ha!’ cops a filthy take on the riff to the Bunnymen’s ‘Over The Wall’ as if it’s been taken out partying and had its reputation sullied by substance abuse. Meanwhile ‘Because I Want’ is the sort of gorgeous lo-fi pop tune that the Snare have excelled at over the years whilst the jaunty bass of last year’s single ‘I Am God’ provides a nice contrast to some of the darker tunes on the record.
With the recent and (hopefully) impending successes of side projects the Grand Gestures and Man Without Machines respectively, ‘Our Jazz’ is a vital reminder that, 10 albums in, the Snare remain a potent force in their own right.
And it goes straight into my favourite three LPs of the year so far. Highly recommended.
‘Our Jazz’ is released on 31st March as a download only (initially at least) from the Spare Snare Bandcamp. However, pre-order the album and you’ll get four of its eleven tracks immediately.
All the band’s back catalogue is also available from their Bandcamp.
Look out for a Spare Snare interview here early next week.
Declaration of interest – This review on an advance copy of the album received after purchasing the pre-order.