Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B

After a collection of cult EPs, Jockstrap fully reveal their complex and creative identity on I Love You Jennifer B

Album Review by Skye Butchard | 05 Sep 2022
  • Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B
Album title: I Love You Jennifer B
Artist: Jockstrap
Label: Rough Trade
Release date: 9 Sep

Over a collection of EPs that have already earned cult status, Jockstrap combined vintage pop balladry with unhinged club experiments – and even the occasional string overture. The erratic approach was undoubtedly exciting, but it occasionally obscured the emotion at the core. On their debut album, I Love You Jennifer B, the duo show their beating heart, without sacrificing the chaos or creativity.

Vocalist Georgia Ellery stuffs her lyrics with bizarre images and in-jokes. Like her other band, Black Country, New Road, it’s sometimes hard to hear the honesty. That obfuscation is part of the appeal. Ellery and bandmate Taylor Skye allow their songs to develop based on instinct. The frequent curveballs have a dizzying effect.

Now, there’s more space for the emotions to grip you. Take Angst, a harp-backed story about giving birth to your anxieties on a bathroom floor, where Ellery captures the intensity and dissociation of a panic attack. There’s also What’s It All About?, a lovesick ballad about waiting for physical affection. It features a theatrical vocal performance, and grand production that plays like a futuristic take on Harry Nilsson. Throughout, the poetry remains slinky and ambitious to match the music.

Musically, the pair are inventive and undeniable. Opener Neon is a clattering eruption of energy that blurs the genre lines even further with thick layers of noise and prog-rock storytelling. Greatest Hits is a wistful celebration of pop music history, rooted in contemporary sounds. Ellery directly references Madonna, in a story that’s a clever reflection of Like a Virgin ('For the first time, I like it when he’s inside').

The centrepiece, Concrete Over Water, is a slow-burning and operatic banger that becomes oddly intimate in its field-recorded second half. It combines the band’s multiple modes, making it an obvious showcase for all that they can do. Debra is just as joyful and surprising. After a heavy intro about grief, we’re thrown into a world of distractions – Animal Crossing, big cities, parties – as a killer synth line swallows up the pain.

The highlight might be Glasgow, an anthem of self-assurance that lives somewhere between French cinema, Moloko and Fleetwood Mac. It sounds nothing like the acid techno closer 50/50, or the haunted acoustic dramatics of Lancaster Court.

There are ideas pouring out of Jockstrap’s debut. Somehow, they’re ideas that work together and grow more legs as you listen. It’s a labyrinth of a pop album.

Listen to: Glasgow, Concrete Over Water, Angst