Once Like A Spark Review - Atomic Duster
Well, what can I say? Jetplane Landing have come one hell of a long way since they supported my band, Duffmonkeys, to a packed house at Leicester's famous venue The Shed. Well, ok, it wasn't quite packed - there were three people there, the barmaid, the cleaner and our lead guitarist's missus. I remember thinking, as I watched from the viewing hoardes, "this band's pretty good" and being impressed that they'd even bothered to go on at all with such lacklustre support. So I bought their demo CD from them - a double a-side of "This Is Not Revolution Rock" and "Atoms Dream In Technicolour" single they were flogging at the gig.
Sadly, I lost that CD before I got home and thought nothing more of it. Then, three weeks later, when I was going through my "once-every-two-years" car clearout, I found said disc down the side of the passenger seat and was suitably impressed when I actually bothered to play it. However, at this stage I was still under the misguided impression that JPL were just a very good band. I bought their debut album 'Zero For Conduct' more as a helping hand really, as they were all nice guys and I thought they deserved it. To say my jaw dropped on my first listen would be an understatement. They mixed hard, angsty rants ("What the Argument Has Changed") with tender but not twee love songs ("The Last Thing I Should Do") and what's more they seemed to have taken a large slice of influence from two of my favourite bands, The Pixies and Pavement. Now, this became a CD I could not put down, and eventually, I started to believe it was the greatest album ever made by anyone. And I still believe that! So following it up was always going to be a tough chore, but I've got to say this: they've passed the test with flying colours.
First of all, let me just point out that 'Once Like a Spark' is not even remotely like 'Zero For Conduct' in any shape or form. Sure, there is the odd moment that could possibly have been slotted onto its predecessor without too many eyebrows being raised, namely "Brave Gravity" and maybe "Tethered By All That We Know", but aside from those two, this is a far harder affair from our future Rock Gods.
As a result of this, the album is perhaps not quite as immediate in its appeal, but give this a few spins and the melodies flow thick and fast, becoming every bit as infectious as those on ZFC, despite Andrew sounding uncannily like Fozzie Bear on the first couple of verses to "Effect a Change"! That track is a prime example of the diversity of this group, starting off as a particularly angry punk record and culminating in one of the most hauntingly beautiful endings to a song I've heard in a long time.
Then of course, there are Mr. Ferris' wonderfully poetic lyrics. After all it's so refreshing to have artists who have something to say put so much time and effort into the way they convey these things.
As far as musical references go, it's difficult to pinpoint this time around. This is going to sound strange, but artists I was put in mind of during the album were The Police, Joe Jackson ("Writing the Ways Down"), Rage Against the Machine ("There Is No Real Courage Unless There Is Real Danger"), The Spencer Davis Group ("Do It.Now!") and a multitude of other unexpected comparisons I could make, albeit on a much heavier, grittier level. No doubt you may hear 'Once Like A Spark' and wonder what the heck I'm going on about, but the one thing I think we'll agree on is this: Jetplane Landing have once again created a spectacular MASTERPIECE.
- Tone E, Atomic Duster
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