Jessamine

Don't Stay Too Long

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The final Jessamine album proper was also a definite break from most of the band's previous work on a number of levels. Not only was it the shortest of them all, clocking in under 40 minutes spread out over seven songs, but Smithson took the lead vocals on them all, her voice sounding like a combination between the earlier psych-semi-bliss and a bit of late-night blues. Similarly, the music had a more downbeat, shadowy feeling -- not that Jessamine's work in earlier days couldn't have that tendency, but there's a sense throughout that the tendency towards subtler brain-melters has now resulted in songs that suggest as much as deliver. The active funk of "Pilot-Free Ignition" suggests the likes of Can, to be sure, but without turning into endless monster beats and vibes (or alternately the slick grooves of, say, Stereolab, though Smithson's vocals on the ominous strut of "Continuous" suggest that band). Brown's keyboard work more than once calls up the rainy day mystery of Ray Manzarek -- opening track "Elsewards," in particular, has a shadowy "Riders on the Storm" vibe towards the end -- while there's less traversing the space lines and more moody nightclub moves. Where Jessamine sounds more like its past, as with the chugging motorik of "Corrupted Endeavor," one of the band's best songs and featuring some really great rhythm work from the Smithson/Faeth team, it still sounds of a piece with the rest of the album. Brown gets him some of his notable keyboard squiggles and shifts here, but like everyone else tones it down just enough. It's actually a fairly brave move in the end -- they could have easily kept the post-rock underground happy with The Long Arm of Coincidence Part 2, but Don't Stay Too Long takes chances and generally gets away with them.

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