Jonathan Boulet's self-titled debut is charming, inviting listening. From the opening track Continue Calling onwards, Boulet gives the listener the impression of a friendly jam session, creating space and warmth with multitracked and group vocals. Although his sound carries shades of Lior and more than a hint of Josh Pyke- albeit a little rougher around the edges- there's a freshness and an originality to his work which speaks of a maturity beyond his tender years.
The use of improvised or alternative percussion- handclaps, shakers, stripped-back kits- is emphasised but not repetitive. Combined with the pervasive multitracking, they add a sense of space and an intricacy that most guitarist/vocalists are missing. His melodic sensibilities are strong but unpredictable, keeping the listener on their toes. The production is purposefully imperfect, and the little unpolished touches are what make this debut so good- the whisper of guitar strings on Latch Key Kids Unite, for example, takes the simplicity of the melody and gives it rawness and an honesty that catches at the ears.
The album's highlights, curiously enough, are the closers. North To South East To You demonstrates a confident hand with dynamics, swelling from a voice and guitar to a sweeping, string-backed handclapping crescendo. The anthemic A Community Service Announcement takes Boulet's folksy pop into African-style rhythms, with rolling drums and crisp guitar picking, strongly reminiscent of a rougher take on Graceland.
As Boulet sings on the infectiously danceable 3 2 1 Ready or Not, he just wants to sing and he just wants to dance. We should let him- and if he wants to take over the whole world, he’s got the chops to do it.
Billy Corgan and Liam Finn did it. Now we can add Jonathan Boulet to the list of musicians that have written, recorded and performed an entire album almost completely by themselves. The ambitious but understated self-titled debut from the Parades’ drummer is smarter than your average record and certainly not what you’d expect from a self-proclaimed 21-year old skate rat producing music in his garage.
“Continue Calling” mixes Spanish guitars and harmonies like a Gomez song with a major twist. Plus, the reggae-infused refrain seems to borrow from “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and takes you away to a bright, Jamaican beach.
“Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die” is like an earnest Muppet Show choir backed by some rolling drums and just adds another piece to this intricate musical puzzle. “You Never Knew Me” and “10 Billion Years Away” are pure folk pop, making Boulet sound like a less erudite Josh Pyke. And the latter track features Rebecca Shave’s gorgeous feminine vocals.
“321 Ready Or Not” is the kind of cheery indie pop commonly sprouted by America’s Vampire Weekend or The Drums. Basically it leaves you wanting to lap it up the sun or in the case of the latter, go surfing in the summertime. “Lay Off The Streets For A While” almost seems like the antithesis of all this – acting like an über-cool rock anthem with a catchy bass riff and one hell of an imaginative dream sequence.
“Adam Of Zilla” and “North To South East To You” sound like tracks from Radiohead in “Kid A” mode. The finale is Boulet’s “big” single, “A Community Service Announcement,” a contemporary call to arms for the modern idealist and propelled by some of the same instantly recognisable keyboards that endeared the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s newest effort to a new legion of fans.
On his debut, Boulet takes us on a wonderful tangent of shining musical genres all in the name of cheery optimism. Jonathan Boulet is a warm, friendly offering from a young artist you should keep your eye on. With a refreshing collection of songs, this debut is fundamentally more interesting and exciting than your standard community service announcement.