In Other Words

Paul Jacks

Tritone Records, 2019

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


It's not often you'll see me review the same artist twice in a year, but when it comes to exceptional talent like the unconventional pop song craft of Anchorage resident Paul Jacks, I really can't help myself.

Though it's only been a few months since he released Defractor (my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250, Jacks is back with a second solo album; this time, he's surrounding themes of love lost, self-destruction, denial, longing, regret, and a handful of other feelings endemic to the human experience.

The Alaskan wastes no time drawing us in to his electro-pop prowess on the opening tune “In The Late Dark,” where a buzzing synth delivery finds '80s post-punk influences amid the dance rock setting, and “Kintsu” follows that lead with a darker approach where an anthemic quality exists alongside the strong rhythm and sweet melodica.

The rest of the album shines bright and moves swiftly, with the '80s New Wave nods of “Too Emotional” as well as the subdued, dreamy ballad-ish delivery of “Drawn Upon.” Elsewhere, “Do What You Will” radiates warmth around a dense beat of charged synth-pop tinted with sadness, while “Still Your Passenger” really tests the limits of Jacks' skill with a quick display of precise instrumentation.

At the end, “On A Tightrope” offers an ambient adventure of reserved but no less powerful pop, and “You're Going To Learn To Love Someday” exits the affair with a full blast of percussion heavy and fuzzy landscapes that is nearly impossible to forget.

Unfortunately, the impetus for this installment of tunes was rooted in tragedy; someone close to Jacks took their own life. Understandably, there are some dense themes explored with In Other Words, and the music is equally thoughtful with a kaleidoscope of ideas that are unpredictable and innovative. If there's a better artist playing synth pop sounds with this amount of substance today, I certainly haven't heard of them.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2019 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tritone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.