NEW RELEASE: Paul Jacks' "Casablanca Love" dual single comes out 02/12/2021!
NEW RELEASE: Paul Jacks' "Casablanca Love" dual single comes out 02/12/2021!
Following up on his critically acclaimed second solo album, In Other Words, multi-instrumentalist and Alaskan, Paul Jacks, explores solitude and his identity in an ever-changing world. The backdrop for his new album, Black Jackal, is an apocalyptic world and its aftermath. Drawing from Egyptian mythology, Jacks takes on a futuristic persona with Black Jackal to explore the transition to the afterlife. According to the writer, the album represents our “journey into the dark to discover the light which has the power to transform us.” The album is full of syncopated synths, electronic pianos, orchestra and brass sections, lush pads, echoed backing tracks, dark harmonies, and a hybrid of live and electronic drums played by both Jacks and Dan Konopka (OK Go). Jacks brings his listeners into a futuristic existential crisis and takes them on a musical journey that touches all of the senses.
“When COVID-19 hit, I had already been working in the studio daily on the album, but the pandemic helped me refocus all my energy on the project versus singles or other collaborative efforts. It was a blessing in a bizarre way to my creativity,” Paul Jacks explains, who wrote and produced all of the songs in his label’s studio, Tritone. The album arrives during an uncertain time in the world, and its creation could also be a prediction as Jacks sees it.
Jacks takes heavy influence from 80’s new wave and goth, along with his personal struggles to craft his third solo album, Black Jackal. The first five tracks are set in a “pre-apocalyptic state” as well as keeping the traditional A/B side aspect of a physical record, this being Side A. Jacks touches on lunacy, love, loss, lust, and yearning for so much more through the beginning of the end.
To start the album, Jacks digs back into his repertoire with a song he originally wrote in 2003, “Lunacy’s Back.” The song puts listeners in a dreamlike state as we hear trumpets and syncopated synths on this fully orchestrated pop tune. On “No One Else” Jacks summarizes the track as “the feeling that you are truly alone in the world questioning existence at every turn.” It’s a very upbeat track for the lyrical content and takes us deeper into this bleak vision of the world. The third song on Side A “The Hunger,” is a smooth and eerie track that takes us right onto the dance floor as Jacks sings “I feel the hunger tonight / Got my blood to a boil / Will you cure me somehow?/ Before I imitate” To finish Side A, “The Quarantine” has us relating to our current state of global pandemic with “You hold on/ To that soft dream/Save your strength/ For what will become.”
Side B examines the aftermath/afterlife of the apocalypse. The first song “Acres of Diamonds” is a melodic and synth heavy track that fills listeners with intrigue as Jacks sings "Acres on the moon / Spinning by themselves /They're all guaranteed / To start anew / And I long to be free.” Jacks describes it as a futuristic look at the real estate market, where land is scarce and the only property left is on the moon. However, “there is always a twist as something more sinister awaits.” The next song is another orchestrated pop song “Always Something to It.” Jacks explores his reality and deems that this new world “is never what it seems now” questioning us to rethink what is truth. “In Between Us” has almost every instrument you can think of on this soft, but powerful track. Jacks notes that “the story is narrated by a shell shocked soldier of the future-a leftover shell-shocked idealism that tells the story of warring clans who are left over from the end of the world.”
While going into battle, Jacks sings out “Fallout destroying between us /Bringing out the monster / There’s a killer here amongst us and them.” The closing track to the album, “Walk Alone” fills us with hopefulness as well as sadness as a traveler seems to be accepting their new fate of heartbreak and isolation. Jacks gently croons “We could’ve been love at first sight, love at first sight.”
Since 2018, Jacks has fervently pursued his solo artist musical life, leading off with Defractor in 2018, which launched on the same day as the major Anchorage earthquake. This was followed up in 2019, with In Other Words and then Drama Club, a B-side EP from the In Other Words sessions. In 2019, he decided to start releasing singles and run them parallel with his album career, and in 2020, released 4 dual singles, or A/B singles, as he uses this form to explore other musical realms and possibilities. Jacks claims to be highly influenced by literature and usually focuses on certain literary elements in the making of his records. For Black Jackal, Jacks draws upon his passion for dystopic literature with writers such as J.G Ballard, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick, as well as philosophy, psychology, mythology, and alchemy.
"Rather than trying to be daringly futuristic with untried themes that could crash and burn if timed against a volatile culture like that of 2020, Jacks is digging into the history of alternative rock to find inspiration in the corners of synth pop and new wave artistry many have long abandoned in recent times – only he’s adding a twist."
"Contradictions are always inviting in this genre, but duality is something that turns the deepest of underground players into icons virtually overnight."
"With the release of his explosive, retro-synthy, sonically intricate and vocally hypnotic apocalypse/aftermath concept album Black Jackal, Anchorage based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul Jacks is quickly becoming the indie pop world’s most engaging purveyor of the classic A-side/B-side aesthetic that was once the norm in the rock era."
"Black Jackal is a very stimulating listen even after it’s been put on the stereo a couple of times through, and I don’t believe you’re likely to find another album of its kind in 2020. In short, if you weren’t watching this artist before his new LP, you will be very soon."
"In a year that has celebrated anxiety and stress like few others in recent memory, the ultra-surreal tendencies of an LP lie this one come to audiophiles as soul food for the tired mind – an exodus away from the conventionality of mundane melodic pop..."
" ‘Black Jackal’, keeping to Jacks’ style, harks back to the 80s, and the laid back rock style favoured by the likes of Joy Division / New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cure, Yazoo, and Interpol."
"... the term alternative music still means something in 2020, but it's only because of the independent element represented so breathtakingly well by records like this one."
"Deep in thought for and through his art, Paul Jacks utilizes his influences of literature , he focuses passions for writers by J.G Ballard, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick, to dig deep into the possibilities of philosophy, psychology, mythology, and alchemy"
“Black Jackal isn’t the kind of album that you put on in the background while you work. It demands your attention and requires the kind of deep listening that rarely happens anymore."
"...he’s an alternative legend in the making, much like his heroes before him, and in adapting historical sonic virtues to meet the needs of a millennial audience, he secures a permanent place in my heart as a critic and music fan."
"The backdrop for the album is an apocalyptic world and its aftermath. That dark, dire feel is apparent on “Black Jackal.”
“The Hunger, is a smooth and eerie track that takes us right onto the dance floor as Jacks sings “I feel the hunger tonight / Got my blood to a boil / Will you cure me somehow?/ Before I imitate”
"Jacks has an uncanny ability to use just the right synth sounds and melodies to get such a perfectly genuine 80's aesthetic that it gives you the warm and fuzees."
"A synth-pop/synthwave gem by Paul jacks… Back to the 80s! "
"Jacks channels the best of the 80s British invasion on ‘Foolish Pride’ (he even mentions 1981 in the lyrics), as he takes a step out of himself, making a very personal and quite introspective observation on the pitfalls of Pride."
"Låten fick mig att tänka på Johnny Marr och Bernard Sumners projekt Electronic, vilket såklart är en bra sak. Eller vad säger du?"
"Right from the opening beat, “All The Rage” has a distinct vibe that is a mix of classic New Order rhythms with a Morrissey like croon and sway from Paul Jacks. This 80’s jolt will bring back the days when OMD, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell and Pet Shop Boys were radio staples while the song itself is a socially conscious challenge of all the anger and violence in the world."
“Shy Boy is Disco Pop and while there is Beatles-formed-in-the-70s flowing from a lo-fi synth foundation, I get a bit of early OMD from it. Rising and falling into and out of majors an minors, the song has a shimmy born in a brightly colored room, but an underlying longing."
"...synth-master Paul Jacks is bringing us six dynamic new songs as three A/B sided singles, each with its own distinctive artwork."
"...Paul Jacks is taking a completely different approach to this album and producing something that is monolithic, melodic, and most of all, mightily addictive even after a only a single spin."
"I loved the overall vibrancy, the bright grooves, atmospheric melodies and soaring production values."
"Beneath the cosmetically gorgeous surface, In Other Words is a sterling songbook of effervescence and experimentation, and it’s easily one of my favorite albums hitting record stores this month."
"Too Emotional is one of those multi-layered songs that causes you to pause and analyse it; to decipher the distinct layers, and to think about where you’ve heard it before. It’s at once new and familiar at the same time: it’s retro and modern; upbeat and yet covering deep subject matter."
"... on Paul Jacks' In Other Words-it is a musically effervescent release to my ears that contains new rewards with each new hearing."
"Gorgeously wrought, In Other Words delivers contagious energy and alluring blends of nu-wave colors, along with Paul Jacks’ alluring voice."
"I was only recently introduced to the music of Paul Jacks, but I’m already head over heels for what he’s doing in this latest release. Defractor, his first album, had all the trappings of a perfect debut, and the blueprint that its tracklist set forth is definitely expanded upon in this record"
"The ten songs comprising the album wrestle with intense emotions and subject matter but the light Jacks spies at the end of the song cycle is not an oncoming train but, instead, a better tomorrow."
"He’s got an organic talent that comes on overwhelmingly strong in pretty much every track here, and it’s something that I would love to hear more of in another release. I’ll be keeping an eye on his progress in the next few years, and once you’ve listened to In Other Words this August, I think you’ll want to as well."
"Talk about a quick turnaround! A mere six months after the release of his Defractor LP, Alaska’s Paul Jacks announces In Other Words for an August release, again on the Tritone Records label."
"Inspired by the 1993 film of the same name, “Fire in the Sky” features shimmering synths that sound straight out of season 1 of Stranger Things. Much like the movie, the track deals with a loss of innocents; Jacks sings “I was just a boy/too young to be sure how much of me died that night” over the mid-tempo rock groove."
"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..."
"...Brilliantly produced and slickly arranged for fans of both mainstream and underground pop/rock..."
"...A dexterous, spidery rhythm wallops us with muscular, bass-heavy swing that is derived purely from old school..."
"...and his vivid imagery delivers the listener directly into his dark world themes."
"From start to finish, it’s a delightfully, synth and electronic beat swirling mindbender of a trip back to the spirited, seemingly simpler times when Gary Numan, OMD, Joy Division, Tears for Fears and Nile Rodgers era Bowie held court on the pop charts."
"There’s a hope and a melancholy in the song, as Jack’s baritone casts emotion around as he steers it along, the melodies memorable but almost weary, wary of the emotion that surrounds it."
" Paul Jacks embarks on a perilous journey to make his way back home in..."
"...Equally fascinating and affecting, this pairing of sight and sound..."
" Swirls of spilling colors radiate from the synths, as Jacks’ dreamy ..."