The members of the Static Jacks may be in their twenties, but they sound like they've been listening to a lot of music that's around 30 years old on their debut full-length If You're Young (which follows a self-released 2009 EP, Laces). That music went under such names as "new wave," "post-punk," and "power pop" when it emerged in the early '80s from the more raucous punk movement of the late ‘70s. The Static Jacks retain much of the energy of punk, and a bit of the attitude, but their sound has a more polished pop tone to it. The dominant aspect is the guitar work, as members Henry Kaye and Michael Sue-Poi provide ringing, chiming tones over the propulsive drum work of Nick Brennan. (Producer Chris Shaw provides guest bass playing.) Ian Devaney's vocals may be under-mixed, but he comes across as a sturdy frontman, often suggesting a less irate Joe Strummer without the Cockney accent. Occasionally, specific early-‘80s bands are evoked, as on "Mercy, Hallelujah," which sounds like a lost B-side by the Cure, or "Relief," with its sequenced guitar patterns in the manner of early U2. As the title If You're Young, suggests, the lyrics position the band in some of the universal concerns of youthful adulthood. They bear lingering resentment against their significant grownups ("My Parents Lied"). Their emotional relationships are problematic (one song is called "Sonata [Maybe We Can Work It Out]," followed by "Walls [We Can't Work It Out]"). And, in more than one song, they express concerns about what's to come. "Blood Pressure" contains the line "I'm afraid for the future," while opening track "Defend Rosie" declares, "I've seen the future/You'll never guess what the f*** is coming next." The Static Jacks may not be able to guess, either, actually. But If You're Young will make fans of alternative rock hope that more music will be forthcoming from the band.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann