On 10/3/2016 at 06:02:57 pm a man named George D. posted in the comments section which follows every review on Divide and Conquer’s page. This particular review was for the Philadelphia psychedelic rock outfit Them Jones’ sophomore effort A Mountain of Nonsense. To quote Mr. D, “Damn, this is really good.” In a twisted fantasy I have I like to think that George D. was referring to my fine writing skills, however it seems much more likely that he was referring to the record. In either case I concur.
But that was then and this is now. Nary a year has gone by and Them Jones have returned with a new record titled Grow. Now I don’t wanna try and read too much into this title but it seems to me to be a reference to the growth and development Them Jones have underwent in the time since their previous record. They seemed to have shed their puerile monikers and present themselves by their real names now, the rather unwitty: Frank Tobin, Dan Matrone, Matthew Rowland, Dan Leyden, and Jim Leyden. Eh who am I kidding Grow is obviously a drug reference.
The opener “Welcome” is a bit of a kick in the nuts. It combines some shiney-dirty guitar riffs and some of that sweet organ with some ooh’s and ah’s courtesy of Sgt. Pepper steering the Yellow Submarine aground as it ends abruptly. Dammit I thought, just when this was getting good. But then it got better as the sweet and clean chords of mellow psych-pop started churning out “Grow” which sounds as though the Animals and the Kinks formed a super group. The song structure is spot on, reined in and almost too good, as are the genius lyrics “you gotta grow/ where you're planted” enunciated perfectly. The band definitely blew their wad early on this one.
Or did they? We get a more upbeat early punk vibe on the radiant 60’s electric-blues tinged “Flowers for Butterflies” which sounds like something George Harrison would have done if he’d never met John and Paul. Then comes the mellow nonchalance of “Many Years of You” that crackles with delicious listenability. I thought to myself damn if this song just keeps going on forever I’d be totally cool with that. It’s one of those songs you can put on and then leave the room to take a piss and then come back and you just slip back into it like you haven’t missed a beat. The acid trip of “Maya” gives the record a bit of weirdness that it needs at this point, kinda like a funky intermission.
With Grow Them Jones don’t play it super straight as they begin to transition into a more experimental psych territory that skirts various periods of Pink Floyd-esque drama-pop as they do on the ghostly and extravagant seven minute long “Shiva” and then on the porous psych explosion of “Intermission.”
There is a new beauty to found on Grow too like on tracks like the thoughtful and downbeat, “All the Time in the World,” and the lengthy dose of deliciously calamitous mood music “To Love Me is to Drug Me.”
What amazed me the most about Grow was how much Them Jones were able to take their core sound and hone it so quickly into something even better than before, or rather not better per se but even better, which I suppose in an essence is growing. In a year that’s half over I have found myself non-plussed by much of what I’ve heard so far, which just makes Grow that much more of a record to treasure.
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