It’s rough being a Mets fan. It’s a team with consistent promise, a couple of championships and some monumental collapses. Following the Mets is much like listening to a band that you want to like, but ultimately lets you down. There’s a new game every track, a new season every album. The ups and downs of a season are akin to the ups and downs of a record. As a Mets fan, you get used to moments of brilliance and then the inevitable let-down. Jaill’s second proper LP and Sub Pop debut, That’s How We Burn, is much like a Mets’ season. Opening day presents “The Stroller,” a hypnotizing psych-rock-single-chord-progression swelling into a mesmerizing garage rock burner. The noise-shrouded guitars build around a pummeling rhythm, ending in prophetic words for a Mets fan or a That’s How We Burn listener, “And I wouldn’t put my life in the hands of a stranger/When you panic do you count to ten?”
I’ve given up counting to ten when nine strangers take the field with the season on the line and I’ve likewise given up on these four lads from Madison, WI with an album on the line. However, the album fails to build on the promise of its opener. Where its slow-pounding, entrancing rhythm offers space for the lyrics to breathe, many of the catchier pop songs wedge lyrics awkwardly into the jangly, surf-influenced psych-pop.
“Demon” opens with instantly hooky guitar reminiscent of Lenny Kaye, but the vocals float on the surface like oil on water, never settling in. Jaill’s promising guitar-driven psych-pop gets bogged down in muddled lyrics and half-baked songs that regularly contain one good riff and little else.
When That’s How We Burn shines, it glistens with the joyful summer shimmer you’d expect from a modern pop take on ’60s psych and garage. Unfortunately, this sound is too often burdened with the weight of lyrics like “She said I’m the night and I’m surely not a child/She said I’m a dog and it is your stick that’s got me riled.”
But that’s the beauty of being a music fan, there’s always a next album. With a lighthearted superficially-charming sound, Jaill ought to have another season to find its formula and like the Mets, there’s enough to like on That’s How We Burn to give the boys another chance.