You Make Your Own World from The Saucy Jacks is a great collection of power pop, derived from mid ‘60s Beatles as well as the revival of that genre from the ‘80s.
The song “You Make Your Own World” has the most interesting melody on the whole record, moving through McCartney-esque leaps over a fingerpicked electric guitar. The string arrangement is clever, slipping in and around the melody with haunting harmonics and contrapuntal movement. There is subtle piano and an interesting swell at a Piccadilly third ending. “When the Axe Comes Down” opens up with an explosion of Townshend like guitars before the song moves to a polished power-pop chirpy sound. The song has lots of energy, awash with thick harmony vocal and powerful bass and drum tones throughout.
“Cock of the Walk” layers in guitars with staccato riffs and descending chords making for a mid ‘60s Beatles sound (as seen through Todd Rundgren’s Utopia or The Romantics). Again, the snare and hi-hat tones are incredible cutting through with precision and class. The guitar solo fits into the genre quite nicely. “Something on Her Mind” is a mid-tempo rocker with long held out notes in the vocal melody, giving more of a dream-like quality, and making for a nice contrast with the unison guitar and bass riff. The song has some nice harmonies and some chiming arpeggiated guitars giving a Byrds-esque flavor to the song. “A Cut Above” has some wonderful countermelodies in the guitars, answering the melody and rolling through chords with a glistening shine. The bass line is smart, driving and interesting all on its own. The song ends with a great guitar solo and a sudden eyebrow raising final chord, but they pull it off with conviction and it works.
“My Kind of Star” is driven by a descending electric piano and acoustic guitar with a Sean Lennon-like vocal. The melody is very catchy and at a great tempo to keep it uplifting. The song modulates near the end and that is effective as well to give some variation.“You Never Know” has some excellent guitar parts moving between nimble melodies and rhythmic chord hits, all over the subdivision of a dry egg shaker. The bass in the chorus is of great interest too, playing along with the melody between supporting the guitar. With the name check in the chorus and the vocal inflection, there is a tip of the hat to Elvis Costello, which works well. “Blown Like A Kiss” mixes fuzzy and clean guitars, one of which plays a fantastic solo near the middle. The song is short, moving between sunshine-y lope and a blues riff. “Everywhere You Go” is based on a riff similar to The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer.” The guitar solo is admirable again, and the subtle tambourine in the choruses helps elevate them.
A few of the songs don’t work quite as well. “C’mon Jenny” is based around a bright organ and fast chord changes on the guitar and bass. The tambourine really propels the song along well, but the handclaps and gang-vocal backup vocals while may be genre-specific take away from the polish of the rest of the song a bit. “Summer’s Almost Over” has a good chorus, but some of the backing vocals don’t have the same lushness that the other songs contain. The uneven bars in the verse are clever, but the guitar riff throughout feels a bit monotonous and it’s a welcome relief when the pre-chorus chords and bass come in. “Goin’ Out Tonight” opens with “Just What I Needed” guitar accents before moving to a fast Ramones-tempo. The contrast in tempo from the other songs is a good contrast, only held back a bit by the droning organ whole notes, which are pushed up just enough in the mix to hold the drive back a bit.“Flake Out” closes the album with pulsing eighth notes on the bass and a melodic chordal figure in the guitar. The melody is catchy, and the chorus anthemic making for a great closing to the record.
In general, The Saucy Jacks have great songwriting and production throughout. A little editing into a shorter package might help their strengths shine even more.
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