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Polarizing electro-pop from
ex-Blood Brothers

Jaguar Love - Hologram Jams
(Fat Possum Records)
2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 9, 2010
Jaguar Love

Review by Tony Bonyata

I have to admit that after recently hearing only one song from Jaguar Love's sophomore album, Hologram Jams, on the Internet radio station (sadly now defunct) I was hooked. That song was "Polaroids And Red Wine" and it had an inescapable presence with its huge glam- rock beat, a ridiculously catchy chorus and manic falsetto screaming throughout, all while undergoing electro-shock therapy.

With expectations running high for the other ten tracks on this effort by ex-Blood Brothers Johnny Whitney (vocals, keys) and Cody Votolato (guitar, bass) I found them to be fun, yet ultimately disposable pop songs all covered with a thick saccharine glaze; from the punchy opener "I Started A Fire" all the way to the closing number - a braying and obnoxious cover of "Piece of My Heart," originally made famous by Janis Joplin in 1968.

Shifting from the psychedelic post-punk of their 2008 debut Take Me To The Sea, the duo have morphed into more of a new wave/disco/punk outfit, and while the energy level is often off-the-map - with Whitney's high-pitched screams sounding like Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant auditioning for Alvin & The Chipmunks - the end result is certainly polarizing. It'll either find you succumbing to the kinetic electricity, infectious beats and sophomoric lyrics ("Sugar coated cherry soda, puking on the lawn. It's six a.m., the party's over, everybody's gone"), or heading for the hills swatting at your ears as if being attacked by an angry swarm of hornets.

Ultimately Jaguar Love's new direction finds the twosome bouncing off the walls like sugar-crazed pre-teens hopped-up on too much Cap'n Crunch, Coca-Cola and Saturday morning cartoons. Perhaps a bit of late- night drama and (dare I say) maturity in the mix might help propel their next effort from sickly-sweet synth pop to something slightly less irritating. Of course the band does confess at one point in "Polaroids And Red Wine" (which I still think is a great track), "Jaguar Love would rather be a dance party than an album." And maybe this is the way to best appreciate them - forget the record and just go out and shake it with them live. Just steer clear of the lawn when the party's over.

Jaguar Love will be performing Thu. April 8th at Reggie's Rock Club, 2105 South State St., Chicago, IL (312) 949-0120

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