Love is the key to the City, is a mini album from Jockstrap. This string of six tracks is released on Kaya Kaya Records. Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye are the twenty-year olds leading the project. They have a no-nonsense approach to delivering what a publicist would call ‘alternative pop’. Each aspect of this collection is delivered with a clipped directness that shows the band’s affection for being matter of fact.
Love is the key to the City from Jockstrap is a mini album that also plays with convention. The tracks contained here build a densely populated world of call-backs, self-referential reflection and process.
We’ve previously talked about the video for ‘Hayley’ a shimmering, and dark moment that lands as the penultimate song in this sequence. In the context of this collection the track lends weight to a genuinely affecting emotional thread. Each aspect carries purpose and dynamic to describe the human impulse.
Opening track is called ‘Wet’. The sound of a running shower and water splashing. A voice spirals in. Georgia Ellery uses her voice to echo a kind of orchestral/operatic theme. The beauty of loneliness, and hope reverberates off the shower walls. The sound of water hitting the drain is incredible, but then a twist comes. The watery sounds of spiral into the gutter and an orchestra of strings, flutes, and magic happens.
By contrast, second track ‘I want another affair’ calls on a Casio keyboard Bosa Nova beat. We go from the sublime to the sublime of the ridiculous. The surreal, or hyper-real universe of Jockstrap’s worldview is opened up. Ellery sings to summon ghosts from the cinemas on the end of every abandoned pier in the kingdom. Romance is extracted from the mundane. Lusting after this or that is made magical. Lyrically the narrator is beside herself. Seeking a truth that can happen “…to someone like me”. Instrumentally, shit is a bit fucked up.
Intentional disruptions show Jockstrap’s self-awareness. The result of placing contrasts together has been done before but not like this. Few debuts are as genuinely surprising, or rewarding. It’s been years since a band made such an authentic display of themselves with a first effort. So apparently lacking in concern for how they will be received, Jockstrap disregard genre, or the listening-bias of booking agents. There is contrivance but it leads toward beauty in art, rather than the ‘please love us’ of lesser bands. They reward listeners by making a challenge of what pop can be. Odd vocal treatments sit beside high end bleeps, string quartets soften the blows of lyrics that glitch and spit through disenfranchised urban lives. But also, there is celebration.
‘Charlotte’, ‘Joy’, ‘Hayley’ – these characters and song titles plot through the experience of a Lynchian type of world. Women are shown in the full female spectrum. They are strong, they are weak; they are victims their own poor decisions, but also the abuses of others. They are also the perpetrators of crimes, and the downfall of others. This maturity of vision – the humanizing of feminine, and existential angst lands like fresh air. Gender issues are dealt with as much as a spiritual, or genetic reality as they are a political framework. These tracks are populated by men who also possess, or who are compelled by female energy, or a compulsion to subjugate its force. Tiny confrontations are suppressed, and pressures mount to be later released in waves of genuine wonder. There is violence. But there is also beauty. And there is humor. A dark, wry, awareness of how to play beyond the rules.
As may be expected by the title, love really is the key to the process here. For all the deviations of the emotion; the darkness it can inspire, and the ends to which some people will travel in pursuit of passion, Jockstrap show that love is the crux of the matter. It’s just that love may not always be all that good. But obviously, it’s also beautiful. And that’s brilliant.
With Love is the key to the City Jockstrap have delivered an introduction to possibility. This is an album that displays humility and ambition in balance. It occupies a unique space, but most of all it is an album that issues a genuine vision. It is in touch with aspects of the listener’s life; the mundane and rare events of the everyday, and it wakes something deeper than usual.
HURRY – BUY – JOCKSTRAP MUSIC
PHOTOGRAPH BY HOLLY WHITAKER