Andrew Jackson Jihad

Christmas Island

Written by: PP on 29/06/2014 00:51:30

" I hate everything you do / But I’m trying really hard to not hate you / Hating you won’t make you suck any less" - the philosophical words of Andrew Jackson Jihad on album highlight "Kokopelli Face Tattoo". Yes, these acoustic folk punks have always had their way with lyrics that has far surpassed their musical abilities otherwise, and that is again on display throughout fifth full-length "Christmas Island". What is always a spectacle in a live performance jammed with passionate and hateful energy, doesn't necessarily work as well on record, as we've seen in the past. "Christmas Island" is yet another chapter to add to that story, a record that's bound to work great live but just isn't interesting enough as a headphones-on record in itself.

Why's that? Because so much of AJJ's material depends on their ability to convey moods and emotions to a live audience. On record, many of the facial expressions and other miniscule details are impossible to translate across, so we are stuck with the quality of song as our only guidance on whether they are any good or not. And while songs like the aforementioned highlight, "Temple Grandin", or "Do, Re, And Me" are catchy in their own right, "Christmas Island" is frustratingly inconsistent throughout. A song like "Coffin Dance" as track four is a way to kill the mood for the whole album immediately thanks to its slow tempo and frankly annoying vocals. Similarly, "Getting Naked, Playing With Guns" has pretty funny lyrics so it's going to work live like a charm, but as a song on a record it's just not very interesting. That has always been the primary problem for AJJ: how to make their songs on record interesting while keeping the unpredictability and shock factor of their live shows. It is not being solved here on "Christmas Island".

So what we're left is are a bunch of songs with offensive, hilariously aggressive lyrics for what is essentially singer-songwriter music expanded into acoustic folk punk format. Some of them are good. Some of them are forgettable. But none of them generate the impression that AJJ are an incredible live band, which we've seen with our own eyes. And sadly, we can't rate an album based on hypotheticals.

Download: Temple Grandin; Kokopelli Face Tattoo; Do, Re and Me
For the fans of: Titus Andronicus, Conor Oberst, Frank Turner, Kevin Devine, Oklahoma Car Crash
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.05.2014
SideOneDummy Records

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