77:78

Jellies

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

It's no wonder that 77:78's debut album, Jellies, jumps from style to style in a giddy rush of loose-limbed fun and good vibrations, considering that the two guys in the band used to be part of the similarly magpie-esque group the Bees. Aaron Fletcher and Tim Parkin were core members, playing a wide variety of instruments and helping shape the band's sound. As 77:78, the duo work in a much more relaxed fashion, and it shows in the results. Jellies is the musical equivalent of a summer read or comfort food; it doesn't demand much of listeners, but it fills them with a warm, satisfied feeling just the same. The mix of vintage late-night soul, cosmic dub, laid-back trad rock, clunky hip-hop, juke-joint blues, and no-frills psychedelia is blended together with a light touch by sure hands that leave plenty of air in the arrangements and allow the duo's vocals to float gently above. The tempos tend toward a summery crawl, with a preponderance of ballads that set the mood somewhere south of calm and midtempo songs that sway and swing like leaves in a gentle breeze. There are only a couple of times when Fletcher and Parkin turn up the heat a little and threaten to break a sweat; the peppy, organ-led "Chilli" has some Sam the Sham meets "Chicken Payback" going on, while "Situations" is a nice bit of kitchen-sink psych that makes a case that the duo could have made a tricky album if they had tried. They didn't, though, and Jellies ended up as the kind of album that's easy to love right away, with no sharp edges or complicated instructions to scare off those who are easily put off by that kind of things. It's also the kind of record that has legs, thanks to the care put into the sparse arrangements and the high level of skill and charm the duo bake into the songcraft. As part of the Bees, Fletcher and Parkin helped make a lot of really good songs and albums. On their own, they went right ahead and topped their old band's catalog on their very first try.

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