Boston's Jejune delivered a hit-or-miss debut with This Afternoon's Malady
, though it can actually make for a fairly interesting listen if you're wide open to it.
Producer Ted Leo layered the studio sheen on pretty thick for the album, which complements guitarist Joseph Guevara's overblown, J Mascis-meets-Neal Schon textbook emo stylings. Depending on your perspective, this could be an absolute dream come true or a gruesome emo nightmare; regardless, it's difficult to get past Guevara's roundly awful vocals — at one point during the opener, "Morale Is Low," he audibly loses it, cracking up like a pubescent Brady mid-chorus.
Indeed, it seems like the nicest moments on this album come when bass player Arabelle Harrison takes the mic; she is, singlehandedly, all of Jejune's potential; her quite lovely voice and phrasing lend the band's earnest pop a much-needed lighter touch. Of course, Guevara makes a giant slobbering mess out of the lot (except on "38 Calumet," a sunny pop number where his gaudy wank is conspicuously absent), but you've gotta take the good wherever you can dredge it up.
And speaking of the good, here's the biggest redeeming quality Jejune's got going for them (aside from a paltry handful of legitimately nice melodies), which, come to think of it, is probably also their tragic flaw: they sound like they're really trying — hard. So, chalk up a big ol' "A" for effort and be glad they called it quits before things got really out of hand.