It would be hard to review a new Jam City song without making some degree of reference to his debut ‘Classical Curves’, released all the way back in 2012, an underground and critical success. It was an album built of cold, smooth sounds- glistening notes wrung from gyrating machines and squealing floors, marching to the beat of staccato drum machines. Despite its superficial removal from humanity it rang with melancholy, a warm emptiness that struck a chord with listeners. Drawing from techno, grime, house and a plethora of others, it was certainly dance music- not perhaps made to be danced to, but dance nonetheless.
In the new single ‘Unhappy’ Jam City has turned a sharp 90 degrees, bringing jangling guitars and reverb-soaked vocals to the fore. Remaining is the sonic pallete from classical curves- only now the distant screeches serve to colour and deepen the sound, passing off this time as stray harmonics from an electronic guitar rather than echoes from a wailing factory.
It distinctly reminds me of certain bands that fell under the short-lived ‘chillwave’ banner- the melodic lines resemble songs such as ‘Despicable Dogs’ by Small Black, as if they’ve both reached the same territory from opposite directions, Small Black from washed out surf rock and Jam City from faceless techno. The mop-haired elder brother to Classical Curve’s 15 year old dance freak, but undoubtedly sharing the same brilliant DNA.
– Bertie Jennings