Jovi Skyler is a rare breed of beast, there is a feral ferocity to the way they tear tooth and claw into a track. It isn’t pretty; it is torn tendons, broken bones, and bathed in blood. There is no restraint or ego to the sound, it isn’t trying to be “cool”, it is unapologetically unusual, it’s rough around the edges and beautifully sincere. What’s cooler than not caring about being cool? Nothing. If there is a defined definition it should be this.
As an album ‘Nothing To Do’ is a cohesive whole, it has a mohawked punk rock heart beating at its core, tattooed with the vivid color and abstract art of a psychedelic soul, and dressed in the distressed and disheveled hand me down jumpers of its grungey attitude. Each track serves up the same flavor, but with a cheeky little twist that invites the listener to soak in the root notes of the mixed and mingling influences.
It kicks off with ‘If You Think So‘ which introduces perfectly the two opposing forces that make up the Jovi Skyler sound. First there is the playful and childlike hummed “doo-doo-doo” ditty, which skips along accompanied by the cleaner strings of the melody on the guitar for the verse, before we dive skullfirst into the dizzying distortion and grit and growl of the chorus.
That clean sound only exists in its virgin pure state for the first verse, for the rest of the track it is impossible for that pristine white to remain unmuddied by the muck and madness of the tracks darker dirtier side. In this way the instrumentation mirrors the lyrics and meaning of the track, becoming affected and ultimately changed by the noise of the world it exists in.
‘Nervosa’ plays with the same soundscape but dials the angst up to create a dagger sharp track with a wailing chorus that feels more like cathartic release than shoegaze wallowing. The texture and composition of this feels a little more sure of its self, it still has elements of discord and scattered stutters and stops to keep the listener on their toes, but balances this on top of a more concrete bedrock.
At around the 2:20 mark the track has a breakout section that bucks the verse chorus structure you may have been lulled into up to this point. The vocals switch into a Nirvana reminiscent motif and it adds a dreamy melancholy and throwback nostalgia to the sound.
There is more of a hard rock’n’roll edge to ‘Danger Land’ which has moments of prog grunge doomy dirges in its instrumentation and more energy and punch to the vocals. This is a much larger evolution in sound than the two tracks previous, allowing itself to evolve and involve influences outside of the punk and grunge school that we have heard so far.
‘Got It Wrong’ may at first sound like a step back towards the grungier side of the Jovi Skyler sound, but as the track plays out it actually proves itself to be one of the highlights of the album and a perfect example of the mutant mash-up of its influences all merging into a new beautiful monster. The vocals in particular might be their strongest here as they weave a path through the ebb and flow of gentler grunge crooning and powerful punk punch. We covered this track before and you can read the in depth single review here.
At the midway point of the album ‘Tattoos’ is simultaneously a softer more melodic break, as well as a fuzzy wuzzy dive into an even deeper distortion dance. The verse brings you in close with a soothing lullaby, cradling you cozy and warm like a caring parent would an infant, before dropping you to the floor and booting you across the room with the steel toe capped kick of its chorus.
There is an uneasy menace to the music that is most apparent in this track, you should never feel too comfortable, if you stop expecting the unexpected, you are gonna get zapped by the livewire voltage, a message that is mirrored in the angst and anxiety of the lyricism. This theme is just as evident in the next track ‘Evergreen‘ which is as manic as it is melodic, it brings in more indie DIY influences with the vocals sounding more like Ben Kweller or Rivers Cuomo and the sugar sweet chorus is almost spat out with an audible disgust.
‘Virtual Reality’ and its accompanying music video, feel like a fever dream. Life without living. Lost in clips from old movie reruns on the TV, the hazy heady soundscape feels like liminal space as you phase in and out of lucidity lying on the couch, not really focused on anything but a vague sense of escape. Lyrically this track stands out as one of the most concise and clear in its message, and the less agitated and berserk vocals let the poetry of it ring out.
We are then hooked ear first by the sharp piercing point of the apocalyptic lead riff of ‘Never Wanted‘ into what has to be the most frenzied and ferocious chorus on the album. ‘Never Wanted‘ has a monumental weight to it which is a little lost in its calmer breaks, but the heft of it where it counts is more than enough to carry it into a prime position in terms of standout songs.
In what is possibly the most psychedelic and art-rock entry to the Nothing To Do oeuvre, the penultimate song ‘Rocket‘ is completely bonkers. The drums sound like machine gun fire pounding out a cataclysmic rhythm underneath a track that sounds like a mix between Velvet Underground, Primus, and Smashing Pumpkins. It is unique even on an LP as varied, beautifully bizarre, and undefinable as this.
We close with ‘Survivor‘ which pairs well with ‘Rocket‘ delivering a similar vibe. It ends the album with a bit more of a hopeful or healthy outlook, taking the angst, anxiety, agitation, and apprehension that seeps through the moody maudlin buzz of the LP and channeling it into something to draw strength from. Recognizing what doesn’t feel right about the world, but not allowing it to crush you with the weight of its wrongs.
This is music that it isn’t afraid to dabble and dance with its darkside, its moody in a petulant teenager kind of way. This darkness is tempered by the effervescent joy, and obvious light kindled by the playful almost childlike creativity poured into it. It is experimental, it is unusual, it mixes genres, sounds, and influences, like a kid giddy on fizzy pop grabbing blindly for the nearest crayon with no care in the world for a potential color clash.
In a world where manufactured mainstream mundanity reigns supreme, Jovi Skyler is the DIY punk antithesis. It’s chaotic, it’s cathartic, and it’s just crazy enough to work. Where it lacks the polish and production, it swims in passion and power. This isn’t a work in progress, it’s a work of art.
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