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Album review: The Jealous Sound, 'A Gentle Reminder

People say if you've never made a mistake then you’ve never attempted anything new.

In The Jealous Sound’s sophomore album, “A Gentle Reminder,” singer and frontman Blair Shehan’s vocals are wistful, guitarist Pedro Benito’s riffs are haunting, bassist Nate Mendel’s lines are pulsing, and drummer Bob Penn’s beats are solid.

My feet were tapping to the rhythm during the fifth track of the album, “This Is Where It Starts,” and around the 1:20 mark my head started to bob along as well while Shehan crooned, “This is happening.”

But then it hit me.

I had heard this before. Fast-forward a few minutes, after I quickly browsed through Jimmy Eat World’s discography and realized why it sounded so familiar. Not just familiar, but almost identical.

The song I had just been listening to could have been slipped into Jimmy Eat World’s latest album, and an inattentive listener would have just passed it off as one of the record’s weaker tracks. There is a fine line between emulating a certain sound a band has and straight-out ripping it off, and I think The Jealous Sound might have just been a bit too jealous.

The band could have still been all right if they had put some kind of spin on the sound in which Jimmy Eat World has firmly entrenched itself, but whatever Jimmy Eat World has, the The Jealous Sound definitely does not.

Sure, there are little differences: One of the stand-out tracks, “Change You,” starts off with a pounding drum beat and has gritty guitar riffs reminiscent of Armor for Sleep. It also has little sounds in the background during the calmer movements of the song that would fit neatly in an Angels and Airwaves song, and at around three minutes, the music calms for more than half a minute before building to a crescendo. The change-up is welcome, but I can’t help feeling it isn’t enough.

Yes, certain songs, like album-opener “Beautiful Morning,” are pleasurable enough to listen to and even generate a little originality. With distorted guitar riffs in the opening, the song begins in an interesting way, but then pans out into formulaic emo rock, with down-tempo verses exploding into the chorus. It’s not bad, but not particularly gripping either.

What’s worse is these songs are few and far between. Much more common on the album are songs like “Perfect Timing” that drag on far too long, sound too much like other bands, and are, quite frankly, boring.

I guess the problem with The Jealous Sound’s sophomore release isn’t that it does a lot wrong; it just doesn’t get that much right. The clearly talented band works too hard on producing a sound that has already been established and doesn’t experiment enough to truly generate one of its own.

The verdict: Emo rock in the vein of bands like Jimmy Eat World and Armor for Sleep, but without any kind of distinguishing sound.

Reach reporter Nathan Taft at arts@dailyuw.com.

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