Jamaica's sophomore album and U.S. debut, 2014's Ventura, is a fun, often dance-oriented mix of '70s and '80s-influenced melodic soft rock and new wave pop. Clearly cut from the same neo-vintage cloth as their French contemporaries Phoenix, Jamaica showcase the talents of Antoine Hilaire (vocals, guitar) and Flo Lyonnet (bass, vocals). The album, which started out as a recording project in a rented house on Ventura Boulevard (hence the title) in Los Angeles with producer Peter J. France, was finished in Paris with Laurent d'Herbécourt, who previously worked on Phoenix's Bankrupt! Not surprisingly, there are some similarities between Phoenix and Jamaica, with Hilaire and Lyonnet clearly sharing a love of vintage soft rock, disco, and electronic music. Essentially, with Ventura, Jamaica amp up the '70s and early-'80s influences of their 2010 debut, No Problem, with a set of immediately catchy songs. "Houdini" sounds something along the lines of Marc Bolan fronting ELO, while "All Inclusive" sounds like a combination of the Fixx and Player. Similarly, the synth-heavy "Ferris Wheeler" is a romantic anthem perfectly suited for an '80s teen comedy, while cuts like the very Tubes-esque "Ricky" and the psychotic, video game-ready instrumental "Turbo" reveal Jamaica's more theatrical, hard-rocking side. Which isn't to say that Jamaica just sound like a collection of musical influences. On the contrary, Jamaica have enough of their own quirky likableness and vocal style to always register as a completely unique entity, albeit one that wouldn't sound out of place on late-'70s and early-'80s AM radio.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar