Jen Gloeckner returns with 3rd album VINE, treating us to an eclectic mix of styles and tastes.
Music can take you on a journey: physically if you enjoy festivals or working out to your favourite high-energy tracks, or mentally as you lay on the bed with your headphones or listening to that new record spinning on your deck. Some music works better in certain situations, and although you could describe Jen Gloeckner’s new record as an inverted trippy number that could hark back from the hey days of 90s chill out at times, it has enough energy and variety to keep the listener infatuated, as VINE takes you on a journey of musical discovery.
It’s hard to pin point an overall genre for the record, but this is a good thing, allowing Gloeckner to flex her artistry and span out to areas she hasn’t reached before. Ginger Ale and its floaty layered vocals on top of a marching drum beat should feel out of place but adds character and finesse to the track, whereas the trippy elements of album-titled opener VINE fill you with wanderlust as it gently leads you into the record.
The Last Thought is the most melodic track; the drumbeat guides you through a promised land of happy sounds and calming influences, really showing off Jen’s talent not just for a strong rhythm, but also how she can venture into the realms of ‘dream pop’ with the flick of a switch.
As you can probably tell from the title, Counting Sheep is a chilled out track. Reminiscent of bands like Morcheeba or Zero 7 from the 90s’, this would be perfect for laying in the sun to whilst soaking up the vibes and losing yourself for a while. Sold is a folky finish to the album and tops off the singer’s list of genre switching, showing us how great she is at intricately placing different styles of music to an all-encompassing sound.
Listening to this on vinyl really brings out the deep sounds and atmosphere in the music as a whole. Tracks such as Country Sheep work well on the format as it’s able to show off the deep intensity and layers that prevail within the music and bring them out to the forefront. The artwork also complements the record perfectly with its dreamlike state, Jen peering at the camera sleepy-eyed, cast in shadows and hair flicked up in a beautiful vignetted scene.
VINE is Jen Gloeckner’s best work to date. What makes it impressive is the way it can captivate without trying, and the sheer amount of influences used without seeming overwhelmed. Calm and confusion play important parts throughout the record, and together they create something wonderful.
By Jamie Parmenter