If you read my blog you should know three things. 1, I have a frightening love for Sheffield’s finest rock band, Def Leppard. 2, I like tearing into terrible bands and ridiculing them to the point where it just inst professional and I make very few apologies to fans or band members for the way I discuss them and three, I consider Jape to be one of Irelands finest talents ever produced and last year, he sealed that claim with his third album, Ritual.
Ritual was without a doubt my favorite Irish album of 2008 and one of best ever to come out of this country as far as I’m concerned. Yes I know Enya has a lot of albums to compete with but let’s leave that aside shall we!. Richie Egan is one of very far artists making experimental music and getting it right pretty much every time. No matter what style of song, effect or theme Richie deals with, he still manages to back everything up with inarguably good melodies; structure, imagination and a strong musical backbone (take note bands!). Before Ritual he had the poorly received Cosmosphere and the underground smash The Monkeys in the Zoo Have More Fun than Me which spawned the massive cult single Floating. However Ritual brought all of Richie and co’s onstage energy as well as his styles and writing to a peak they hadn’t managed to release on either of the first two albums.
Opening with the well weathered Christopher and Anthony, the album gets a feverish grip of dance beats, electronic samples and Richies unique lyrical style that fans hoped would play a more dominant role of this record than the previous albums. Despite it having all this, second track I Was A Man bombards in and ups the bar 100%. Previously, Floating was the dance highlight on Japes set and fans but he has worked hard to ensure this is pushed to mid-set and his newer work gets the attention instead in order to prove he isn’t a one hit wonder and I Was a Man proves this no end. All the dancey beats, anthem styled lyrics and changes any human could want from their bands. The overall chaos of the song is best seen live but as studio recordings go, you couldn’t ask anymore from this song.
Replays hops in at third and is again surprisingly upbeat and dance oriented. It’s one of those songs that just simple, cut n grab pop. Not the kind of pop you’ll see on X-factor anytime soon, I mean good f**king pop. Once again it’s impulsively catchy, upbeat and a full on stormer of a dance floor hit. Maybe if RTE felt compelled to play Irish music more often, this song, along with many more from the album might have actually reached the country. Ah well, there only the national broadcaster. Can’t expect them to start endorsing Irish talent when there’s easy ratings to be found with international crap. If you’re reading this and you work for RTE I say to you, Go F**k Yourself you absolute waste of an organization!!
(In a ranty mood today, had to put a Happy Mondays review on hold because I wrote 500 words of complaining). Graveyard follows and gives the album one of its most relaxed moments. Lyrics are interesting and worth reading if you can find them on the net. The song just has an overall sublime melody and flow that’s just so easily enjoyable and mellow. Bringing the quality up even further is the incredibly melodic and well loved, Phil Lynott. Hard to describe why this song is so special but its worth getting this album just to hear it, never mind the other songs and seeing it live is even better.
The dance tone returns with the bouncy Streetwise. Like Replays, this is pure pop and is followed by the albums most prominent reminder of Japes Monkeys style. At the Heart of all this Strangeness is the albums most stripped back piece of music. Acoustic guitar arrangements, mixed with low melodies and Japes quiet vocals striving to stay above the music’s volume. Absolutely fantastic song and one of the few singer/songwriter style arrangements that Tickets There fully endorses. Apple in the Orchard follows with another beat laden, smack your face anthem. This song has one of the catchiest chorus of all the songs on this album and there is some very stiff completion. Another crackin’ anthem, Strike Me Down, follows and gives Richie’s set yet another classic dance fueled hit for his live show. Final song, Nothing Lasts Forever has a real Moby-ish style piano melody and haunting vocals with a great bassy drive. Incredible stuff all round.
That’s all I can really say. I reviewed this album for Drop-D when it came out last year and its quality has been diminished one bit. It’s as strong, original and enjoyable as the day it came out. If you haven’t heard Jape I advice a trip to his MySpace and I’m sure you’ll have the album on your stereo by 6.00pm this evening.