Ok, there is no “personnel” section for the initial Jo Passed album Their Prime on its Bandcamp page, and under “Credits” it says only “released May 25, 2018,” so I’m a little at a loss as to who’s doing what here. In this big, huge quotation it seems to say that the singer’s name is Jo Hirabayashi, so I guess we’ll go with that… it hardly matters since his voice is so cloaked in overdubs, reverb and a sort of compulsory Tame Impala “coolness” that it could be any hipster on the street and it wouldn’t make quite a bit of difference.
Somewhere in that unorganized, discombobulated Bandcamp page (accompanying the Facebook promo where the band most modestly compares itself to the Beatles, Can, Neu! and XTC) it says that there’s a “multi-instrumentalist,” but I’m pretty sure I heard programmed strings in there, the type of thing that’s neither very inspiring nor indicative of actual technical skill on an instrument. Actually, instrumentally, all I hear is some guitarist aping Joey Santiago (circa “Vamos”) and then busting into the sort of masturbatory ja**-off riffs that Ratt might have pulled off, at least having had the common courtesy to muster up a little more fun with, and be a little less poker-faced and Bowie-hobbling with, in the process.
And apparently these divine arbiters of “cool” hate Facebook, despite the fact that they used said website to pontificate and compare themselves to the Beatles, since they titled one of their songs “Facetook.” I guess I’ll skip to listen to this song, just to hear how evil Facebook is… it’s not like it matters as this album is basically a putrid washed up version of Washed out without even the semblance of joy you get with that particular DJ. Almost to its credit, it’s not at all ‘80s as it purported to be — there’s no noise rock, no angry political lyrics addressing Reagen/Trump-onomics, really no Beatles influence at all I can hear (to say nothing of R.E.M., The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Stone Roses that is). “Facetook” opens with a watery electric guitar sound, without percussion, which reminds me very much of the last song on the Go! Team’s album Thunder, Lightning Strike, Hirabayashi singing like he wants to be Daniel Rossen, without the courage to actually be understandable in any way. “Facetook” is riddled with that same, infinitely obtuse androgyny of vocal (remember Sonic Youth MOCKED metrosexuality with “Androgynous Mind” and would toggle in a twisted female singer when they actually, you know, wanted to be female), like as if this band would loathe nothing more than making a statement of any kind.
For more than a month now, I think, I’ve suffered through the hype machine that is Jo Passed, and similarly I’ve seen their label Sup Pop ruin many of my favorite bands like Wolf Parade, Beach House and (temporarily) No Age and Fleet Foxes, meanwhile doling us that thicker-than-pig-sh** Kyle Craft (whose music kind of reminds me of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese), and all I get is this stagnant, androgynous slop. Maybe I’m just insensitive for not liking effeminate men in music, but I highly fu**ing doubt it. The ’70s are over. Gayness in rock is about as radical or avant-garde as a fu**in’ cow bell. All over Their Prime, I hear mimickry, as when the band pathetically attempt to foray into a Gaslight Anthem-branded punk rock in “MDM.” They seem pretty comfortable with making fun of themselves, as on the Bandcamp page they furnish the quotation “The nicest thing that anyone has ever – ever – (sic) said to Jo Hirabayashi, frontman of Jo Passed, is that his band’s debut album sounds like fu**ed-up Beatles.” First of all, the album just came out, so this is obviously a retarded statement. Second of all, NOT EVEN CLOSE, not even in the ball park, and there is a veritable litany of bands which already qualify as a “fu**ed up Beatles” out there if you just look, from Blur, to Ween, to The Clash, to The Verve… the list goes on and on. Jo Passed are stars now, that they’re signed to Sub Pop. I am certainly having a hard time, though, attempting to grasp what exactly it is they’re doing here, why they’d call their album “Jo Passed Their Prime” and also compare themselves to the Beatles with a pomposity which is nothing short of utterly repugnant, or apparently refuse to play a single unorthodox musical instrument, such as the sitar George Harrison mastered. I don’t know if they’re aware, but they’re 25 years too late for this slacker laziness and chickensh** self-mockery.