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JOCKSTRAP Wicked City gets 8/10


Jockstrap

Wicked City
Warp/Inertia

8/10

Whatever you think of their music, the ingenuity of British band Jockstrap can’t be denied. Their boldness should be commended – put simply, there’s very little else in current music that is comparative. The youthful duo are composed of Taylor Skye and Georgia Ellery and the future-pop sounds they brandish are uncompromising and unyielding. Released after signing with Warp Records, it follows their debut record Love Is The Key To The City from 2018 and, although this is their sophomore EP, it’s as impactful as if it was a first release. 

To listen to Wicked City is to relinquish to dizziness and chaos. Skye and Ellery switch styles with wild abandon, never settling. Consider the disparities of the second track Acid: Ellery’s swooning and pretty vocal would normally be associated with an indie pop song but here it sweeps in and out of a dramatic and buoyant dubstep bassline. It takes keen ability to clash industrial beats with melodic pop as Jockstrap manage here; their infancy belies their breathtaking confidence.

It’s an exhaustive record, passing at a breakneck speed, and the excess of flavours will overcome some listeners. It doesn’t always work (nor should music as openly haphazardly designed as this) but when it comes together, it does so thrillingly. Robert is a suitably strange and untoward beginning, stuttering and spluttering with jagged stabs of percussion. Yellow In Green reduces the noise, inviting the listener to a smoky lounge bar. It’s a truly lovely track, with pounding pianos and angelic vocals.

Ellery’s voice is at its most striking on The City, abetted by muted production, before Jockstrap unleash their biggest switch as the calm is replaced by deep and ragged UK bass and surrealist production. 

It’s so obviously the creation of art school students as to almost border on parody and pretentiousness but the skill and innovativeness ensure this doesn’t happen. It’s at once ridiculous and immense (the gross stupidity of the band’s name should signal that things won’t be entirely serious anyway): during the late freakout on The City, Ellery deadpans lines like “I sat on the beaver’s face, and he sat on the beavers face/ And told him what the problem was”. How much of Wicked City is sincere and how much is a Gen Z joke? It doesn’t really matter. 

Perhaps the notorious 100 gecs are the only contemporaneous comparative band but distinctions remain between the two outfits: where the Americans are less selective in their approach, throwing everything at the sonic wall, Jockstrap have a lighter and finer sensibility to their work.

It’s as if Jockstrap wanted to fit as many more genres into proceedings before the ending of the EP on closing song City Hell. Dreamy vaporwave gives way to a soft ballad which is then devoured by a mess of trap noise. The song seemingly comes to its conclusion but this is Jockstrap and so it’s a false dawn: a brief fade is dispersed by the resumption of the diving guitars and synthesizers. 

CONOR LOCHRIE

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