by Don Ellis (@thegrindinghalt)
New York City-based Jeanines are a duo comprised of Alicia Jeanine (née Hyman) and Jed Smith (also of Mick Trouble) who, together, make music that is equal parts wistfully nostalgic and strikingly present. Their self-titled, debut album for Slumberland - which follows the release of a few demo tracks, a standalone single and two covers (including a pitch perfect re-creation of Dum Dum Girls’ “Heartbeat” which ramps up the Buddy Holly factor) - is a collection of razor sharp, 60s influenced indie pop.
Those already familiar with the sound will not be surprised by the similar-sounding forebears name-checked in their bio - principally, Television Personalities, The Aislers Set, and Pastels - who scuffed up the painted gold sound of 60s pop. This set, while retaining the lo-fi scrap, strips away some of the punk angularity and cheek of the C86-style bands, embracing the source material in a more loving way. Tracks such as “All the Same” and “Either Way” - the latter a personal fave that sounds like Beth Orton fronting The Housemartins - set the tone nicely; all jingle-jangle guitars, effervescent bass lines and freakout drum fills. There’s shades of the 60s California glint of The Mamas and Papas in tracks like “Winter,” whose musical chorus deconstructs the melody from “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and adding the “Be My Baby” beat. Throughout, Jeanine’s unadorned, multi-tracked vocals are pitch-perfect and affecting.
Jeanine’s tremulous voice is a fine match for both lyrical themes that are, as she puts it (on the band’s Slumberland page), “obsessed with mortality and how weird the passing of time is” and for the overall “kind of melanchol[ic] state of mind” invoked by the record’s tone. It’s this well of emotion that makes this record so satisfying. Yes, the playing is dextrous, and the knack for unearthing the proverbial melodic earworm impressive, but it’s the feel wafting from these sixteen tracks (only one over 2:30!) that lingers. Like watching old home movies on Super 8, or flipping through the pages of an old yearbook, nostalgia can be both disorienting and cathartic.