Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Queen Of Jeans All Again

Memory Music
Memory Music

Let’s start at the top: I fell desperately in love with someone I knew was bound to fuck me up. So begins “Horny Hangover,” the second track and second single of Queen Of Jeans’ third album All Again. “We’re trying to tell the story of when you look back at an important relationship,” guitarist and pianist Matheson Glass explained about the LP. “Years go by, and the more you reflect on it, it becomes more warped and the facts become a little bit more murky.”

The Philadelphia band formed in 2015. Vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Miriam Devora likens the formation of Queen Of Jeans to online dating: “You have a few instances where it doesn’t work and you ghost each other,” she told clrvynt in 2016. The original lineup — Devora, Glass, bassist Nina Scotto, and drummer Patrick Wall — met on the internet, with Wall specifically through Craigslist. Since then, Andrew Nitz has replaced Scotto. “It’s all about relationships,” said in that interview about their origin story, a sentiment that still holds up about Queen Of Jeans in any context.

Queen Of Jeans more often assigned an era than a genre; fans and critics are always quick to point out their ’60s-flecked sound, which the band has confirmed by naming Darlene Love and Dusty Springfield as influences. Time travel can be experienced on “You’re Never Alone” from their debut full-length Dig Yourself, with its haunting a cappella harmonies that lend the song a spiritual aura. The album opener “More To Love” recalls even earlier days with its charming doo-wop rhythm. Its follow-up, 2019’s If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid, is louder and angrier, produced by emo polymath Will Yip. Highlight “Only Obvious To You” serves as a beautiful breakup catharsis: “Love will always fuck you over/ Love will always fuck you over/ Love will always fuck you in the head.”

All Again explores the perils of love, well, all again. The title reminds me of a book, In Love by Alfred Hayes, originally published in 1953 and republished in 2013 by the New York Review Of Books, centering on a man telling a story to a woman at a bar, a story about a love that drove him mad, a love that gave everything a texture of life-or-death, a love that consumed him until he was no longer recognized himself. His story begins on page nine and finishes on page 129. When he’s done, he is there with the woman at the bar, and the book ends with the line: “They went out together.” Because, despite the anguish and the chaos and the absurdity of love, we always return to it, we always end up doing it all again.

Like In Love, All Again starts with the end so we already know its ill fate. Swimmy opener “All My Friends” operates as a premature elegy, illustrating the ever-present loneliness that follows a breakup, of being surrounded by people yet feeling alone because of the overwhelming absence of one specific person. “All my friends around, but I’m not home/ ’Til I’m alone with you,” Devora yearns over poignant guitars creating a lush, shoegazey whirlwind.

Then comes “Horny Hangover,” on which Devora sets the scene of nervously meeting the person who is bound to fuck her up: “They’re always around/ Shaking me up, jaw pinned to the ground/ Can’t meet their eyes/ Think I’d rather drown this drink in my hand/ My pride’s devastatingly thin/ Another shot to soothe my head.” “Horny Hangover” is an exceptional down-bad anthem about wanting someone who’s bad for you, of feeling the pleasure comedown whenever you’re away from them. Just when you think it can’t get any better, the bridge arrives. The drums speed up into magnified thumps, the riffs are emotionally charged with Devora’s voice matching their high notes as she tries to find logic in her feelings. The gang harmonies emerge against swaying guitars for a transcendent few seconds in which she tells herself she deserves better, before she ultimately declares: “Fuck it, I’m still trying.”

The old-fashioned atmosphere that floated through their past work only comes in glimpses on All Again. All Again is enchanting, angsty indie rock tinged with emo sensibility. It makes sense for the group to lean into this direction after years of touring with heavier acts like La Dispute, Balance And Composure, and Citizen (all of whom can be found on Yip’s roster as well). The songs have exhilarating momentum with some reprieves here and there, but All Again is mostly energy. Everything is felt in its fullest; casual observations are painful revelations, like a married couple living next door always fighting on “Neighbors,” and then working it out before the couple at the focus of the album work out their own problems.

There are moments of levity, too, like when Devora recounts being so distracted by her heartbreak during karaoke that “it took me half the song to figure out the mic was off,” she admits playfully on “Karaoke.” Later on that track, she gets in a fight with someone at the grocery store: “I swear some guy in an aisle yelled/ ‘Are you fucking crazy?’/ Said, ‘Do you wanna find out, baby?’” All Again is all drama, but it’s outlined in sagacious self-awareness.

Longing peaks on the sonorous “Books In Bed”: “Wishing that you were here instead of all these books I’ve read,” she proclaims over forceful guitars, culminating into the shouted, unguarded lamentation: “They said it wouldn’t hurt so bad.” A couple of songs later, regret reverberates through the catchy daydream “Go Down Easy”: “God damn you, and I mean it/ Never should have let you in/ It’s like I’m 17 with all these feelings/ Running ’round in my head again.” Perhaps breakups are great fodder for art for this reason — it often reverts us to our younger, more naïve selves. No matter what we experience in love, we never learn. We are just children again, sensitive and clueless.

All Again is resentful, nostalgic, frustrated, disoriented. Instead of chronicling a relationship from start to finish, the album is a nonlinear jumble of feelings and memories. The delirious finale “Do It All Again” is the ribbon tying it together as it echoes the melody of “All My Friends” and Devora sings, “If I got to do it all again/ I’d find you there like I did back then.” She sounds distant and earnest, repeating the words like an incantation, a spell in an attempt to manipulate fate. However, there’s no need for that; all of this surely will happen again, and again, and again.

All Again is out 6/28 on Memory Music.

Other albums of note out this week:

• Megan Thee Stallion’s MEGAN
• 200 Stab Wounds’ Manual Manic Procedures
• Storefront Church’s Ink & Oil
• Dirty Three’s Love Changes Everything
• Headie One’s The Last One
• Camila Cabello’s C,XOXO
• Guided By Voices’ Strut Of Kings
• The Folk Implosion’s Walk Thru Me
• BODYSYNC’s Nutty
• Sour Widows’ Revival Of A Friend
• Previous Industries’ Service Merchandise
• Boldy James & Conductor Williams’ Across The Tracks
• MILLY’s Your Own Becoming
• Channel Tres’ Head Rush
• Lil Yachty & James Blake’s Bad Cameo
• Loma’s How Will I Live Without A Body?
• Cornelius’ Ethereal Essence
• Prefuse 73’s New Strategies For Modern Crime Vol. 2
• Redd Kross’ Redd Kross
• The Warning’s Keep Me Fed
• Washed Out’s Notes From A Quiet Life
• Joy Again’s Song And Dance
• Silverada’s Silverada
• Jxdn’s When The Music Stops
• Gabriel Birnbaum’s Patron Saint Of Tireless Losers
• Superfan’s Tow Truck Jesus
• Hiatus Kaiyote’s Love Heart Cheat Code
• Aaron Frazer’s Into The Blue
• STEFA*’s Born With An Extra Rib
• Oh Hiroshima’s All Things Shining
• Homeshake’s Horsie
• Josh Morningstar’s Josh Morningstar
• The Felice Brothers’ Valley Of Abandoned Songs
• Lame Drivers’ Become An Island
• Esme Emerson’s Big Leap, No Faith, Small Chancer EP
• Anvil’s One And Only
• The Eternal’s Skinwalker
• White Stones’ Memoria Viva
• Nothing More’s Carnal
• Danny Paul Grody Duo’s Arc Of Night
• Suss’ Birds & Beasts
• Mabe Fratti’s Sentir Que No Sabes
• Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ South Of Here
• Daniel Nunnelee’s June, Baby
• Imagine Dragons’ LOOM
• Johnny Cash’s Songwriter
• Laughing’s Because It’s True
• Chris Corsano’s The Key (Became The Important Thing [& Then Just Faded Away])
• Jae Soto’s Leave The Light
• Deron Johnson’s Free To Dance
• Hard Chiller’s Heavy Cell EP
• Frances Forever’s Lockjaw
• Double Wish’s Universe Sometimes EP
• Pretty Sick’s Streetwise EP
• Sarah Grace White’s Sinkhole
• Kaitlin Butts’ Roadrunner!
• Hushmoney’s Hushmoney
• Liana Flores’ Flowers Of The Soul
• Omar Apollo’s God Said No
• SML’s Small Medium Large
• Little Stranger’s Sat Around Trippin
• Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Early Daze
• $NOT’s Viceroy
• Growing Stone’s Death Of A Momma’s Boy
• Love Letter’s Everyone Wants Something Beautiful
• Portraits Of Tracy’s Drive Home: Parting Gifts
• Katy The Kyng’s Selfies Of You
• Kyle Daniel’s Kentucky Gold
• Jae Soto’s Leave The Light On
• Debbii Dawson’s How To Be Human EP
• Wilco’s Hot Sun Cool Shroud EP
• Firewalker’s Hell Bent
• Jenny Parrott’s Love Spell
• Casper Caan’s Last Chance
• The Streets’ Fabric Presents The Streets DJ mix
• Batida’s Bom Bom Remixes EP
• Pleasure Planet’s Pleasure Planet
• Lupe Fiasco’s Samurai
• Yemi Alade’s Rebel Queen
• Virginity’s Bad Jazz
• Skee Mask’s Resort
• Sauce Walka’s Sauce Father 2
• Bernocchi/Chaplin’s The Same And The Other
• John Gallagher Jr.’s Goodbye Or Something
• Benny Trokan’s Do You Still Think Of Me
• Olof Dreijer & Diva Cruz’s Brujas EP
• Foxes On The Run’s Preys Of Fate EP

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