In the new single and music video from Jas Frank & the Intoits, “All the Highs All the Lows,” outsider pop themes are skewed with a sharp rock n’ roll reverence that is personified in the cinematic approach taken to the intimate lyrical content in the song. The video melds the swaying beats into the cadence of its star’s steps along an empty stretch of sidewalk leading to a fateful, symbolic bridge. We’re on the edge of our seats waiting to see what she will do and what these words circling us in the vocal track will ultimately mean; something that also tends to happen every time we press play on its parent album, The Girl from Cherry Valley.
To be fair, “All the Highs All the Lows” is really only a taste of what The Girl from Cherry Valley brings to our attention in nuanced numbers like “Virtual Friends” and the title track. All ten songs included on the record are stylized around a surreal, almost post-punk ethos that veers to the left with every shift of emotional gears that the tracklist provides. The crushing weight of “Human Animal” is evened out by the lighthearted thrust of “In a Hole,” with the Intoits never repeating the same rhythm twice.
Self-producing and mixing is something that a lot of folks in the establishment will tell you not to do in this highly competitive music culture of today, but I like that Jas Frank & the Intoits decided to take the DIY route with The Girl from Cherry Valley. Were they to have employed someone else, I fear that the complexities within “Unlight the Light,” “When the Rain Stops” and even “All the Highs All the Lows” wouldn’t have been treated with the same intensely focused equalization as they are in this form. After all, who knows this music better than the three artists behind its construction?
There’s nothing repetitive about this album, and while each track follows a certain design pattern that is focused equally on the vocals and the string play that gives them some emotional context, you could definitely say that “In Early Mornings,” “Human Animal” and “So Far Away” look and feel like three different songs from three completely different bands. This doesn’t affect the fluidity of the LP, however; if anything, The Girl from Cherry Valley plays out smoother than any straight-up concept album that I’ve personally reviewed in a long time.
This may well be the most engaging debut record that you’re going to hear all year long, and that’s no small statement to make when you look at how many big-name bands are slated to release new albums in 2019. The Girl from Cherry Valley welcomes us into the world of Jas Frank & the Intoits and asks nothing from us in return for a treasure chest of sonic wonderment previously unavailable to experimental audio buffs around the world. This band is rising from obscurity and taking their rightful place in the top tier of this generation’s wildly diverse rock n’ roll lexicon, and I’m excited to hear what they’ll do with the platform.