Dead WeightSpruce Moose Records
By Cole Faulkner
Leading with a DIY punk ethos, UK acoustic folk-punk outfit Jake & The Jellyfish have fast become one of the most talked about bands over in their corner of the world. Hot off the heels of their critically lauded full-length, Credit Cards & Overdrafts, the Leeds trio has become known for commanding tuneful, down-to-earth anthems sure to up the energy in venues of any size. But as is immediately evident with their sophomore follow up, Dead Weight, their debut merely served as a launching point from which to explore the full expanses of their creativity.
This time around, Jake & The Jellyfish leave no stylistic stone unturned. In other words, Dead Weight exemplifies a band trying their hand at just about every genre that can be tastefully hybridized with punk. You’ve got the brass backbone of the Buck-O-Nine inspired, ska-flavoured track “Coffee Tally,” the Dreadnoughts-esque, rumbling sea shanty chords of instrumental opener “Intro,” the violin-laced, Gogol Bordello-like gypsy-party melodies of “Don’t Follow The Leader,” Chuck Ragan type fiddle and banjo Americana of “Borders,” and Sublime-leaning, beach-side chill’n reggae grooves of “Intentions/Expectations.” As disparate as that all may sound, Jake & The Jellyfish leave no loose ends, wrapping everything up in a tightly bound package with a confident stamp of continuity.
That continuity remains rooted in fiercely relatable lyrics and acoustic punk core. For those familiar with the UK scene, Jake & the Jellyfish is a band you’d expect to be joined on the road by the likes of Ducking Punches and Old Coyote Club. The rough-cut, coarse lead-vocal performance and rustic combination of electric and unplugged sounds present the same front of home-grown sincerity that make countryman Frank Turner’s early work so popular in the underground. Similarly, topics like surviving on tour between shows (“DIY”) and the wash of emotions that come with returning to familiar faces (“Homesick”), reassure listeners that whether you’re commanding a crowd on stage or in the sweaty fray of the audience, we’re all living in the same world.
Dead Weight serves as yet another reminder as to the strength of the emerging acoustic punk scene right now in the UK. Jake & the Jellyfish are one of the best examples to point to, and as Dead Weight makes clear, there remains plenty of ground left to tread. If you’re not yet familiar with Jake & the Jellyfish, now is the time.