Jim White “Misfit’s Jubilee”

Loose, 2020

Acid trip Cowboy delivers plenty of whimsy but not a lot of wow

The Americana maverick Jim White returns with what he has described as his ‘most upbeat, hallucinogenic record to date’. ‘Misfit’s Jubilee’ certainly lives up to this billing; from the first track, it takes a raucous dive into a mystical and strange landscape filled with odd characters and compelling sounds. Its strangeness is not always to its credit, however, and the acid-trip coolness occasionally feels a little contrived.

The first track, ‘Monkey in a Silo‘ tells the story of a drug-addicted teenage dope smuggler, and sets out the stall for the upbeat, up-tempo nature of the record. It has an almost circus-esque feeling to it, with odd music box notes in the background, a boisterous horn section and filtered vocals. All the whimsey doesn’t impart a sense of fun, though. Perhaps this is the upshot of the subject matter, but something about it doesn’t quite gel.

Things quickly improve, with the third and fourth tracks, ‘Sum Of What We’ve Been‘ and ‘Where Would I Be?’ respectively, really standing out. They touch on similar themes of hallucinogenic self-reflection, but in a less chaotic way. Again, this is probably quite intentional, but it’s a pleasant relief.

White hasn’t stuck relentlessly to the oddness of the opening track, but sprinkled in some poppy Americana magic and tinges of melancholy. There are plenty of chunky hooks as well – ‘Smart-Ass Reply‘ comes to mind here, a real gem of a track which we previously described as a perfectly executed ripper in the style of early 70’s Alice Cooper. This balance, although not perfect, does make the record a lot more accessible and enjoyable as a whole. Overall, then, an interesting listen – certainly a lot on offer for fans of White’s, but there are too few really standout moments to be an enduring classic.

6/10
6/10

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