The city of Anchorage is located at the terminus of the Cook Inlet in the south-central portion of Alaska. With its long, brutal winters and close proximity to active volcanos, the city is as beautiful as it dangerous. Here is where we find Paul Jacks.
A prolific songwriter by night, Jacks' dedication to his craft is apparent. "I work a job that specifically allows me to work in the studio in waves," he says. "I try to do something in the studio on a daily basis, even if it's just some lyric writing." Jacks' devotion to his craft is packaged delightfully, with a new surprise in every track of his first solo album, Defractor. Despite Jacks' decade-plus devotion to indie-pop with his band Smile Ease and its spinoff combo Asteroid, on Defractor he plays to his other interests in darker, almost morbid, concepts laced in synth sounds. The influence of artists like Gary Numan, Joy Division and David Bowie inflect Jacks' literary and musical devices.
"After Asteroid," Jacks explains, "I decided that I wanted to return to my new wave roots and pursue writing music in that vein, which brings you Defractor."
On Defractor's "Laid To Rest" Jacks' metallic vocals echo with a ghostly plea and his vivid imagery delivers the listener directly into his dark lyrical themes. His request to be comforted by a loved one until he can be "Laid To Rest" is a rather grim one that has a ghoulish feel, as his pleading tone is joined by ethereal and almost supernatural synth sounds.
This theme prevails throughout the album and steeps itself into other tracks such as "Lightning Lobotomy." The tone of this track is detached and otherworldly, and the lyrics only add to its aloofness. "I'd rather be at home in the quick of the night /I'll stare in outer space for as long as I like/ struck by tragedy lightning lobotomy…"These visceral feelings and velvety vocals sound like a whisper within a dream, melding with the music's dark undertones and lush harmonies to evoke the consciousness shift that emanates throughout Defractor.
In addition to being Paul Jacks' first solo album, Defractor is also the inaugural release on the artist's own Tritone Records imprint. The label also offers the output of Jacks' other bands, Smile Ease and Asteroid. "After Asteroid, I decided that I wanted to return to my new wave roots and pursue writing music in that vein," Jacks explains.
Like most of Jacks' musical output, Defractor demonstrates the artist's immense dedication to music-making. "I have a passion for making records and I work very hard on them," he says. "Sometimes I spend an entire month every day working on one song, and other times the magic just happens and a song gets done in a faster way. That's the beauty of songwriting and craft”
"Golden synthesized melodies meet gritty and provocatively stylized lyricism in Paul Jacks’ debut solo album Defractor, which hits..."
" Sizzling strands of synthesized melody greet us in “Laid to Rest,” the opening song in Paul Jacks’ new album Defractor..."
" Fusing 80s Goth indulgences with bright melodies and contemporary pop song structures, Paul Jacks invokes a..."