“It really is impossible to listen to without smiling, and here with The Archcriminals, he might have masterminded his greatest heist.” – Maximum Volume Music. That’s the quote that drew me to Jay Allen and the Archcriminals new album ‘Fun is Fun, The Trilogoy is Done’ (well, that quote and the press blast I got on this album). Although I woke up this morning with a new found sense of optimism and energy, there was still a constant reminder in the back of my head that we are still living in a world without live music and my mental health is absolutely at an all time low with a recent breakup that caught me completely off guard. I needed a smile, a real one, one that was created by the sound of something new and one that would last me for more than just a couple of minutes of bliss so I poured my fifth cup of coffee for the day and hit play on this brand spanking new album.
The album kicks off with “Cry A Little Tear” which is instantly anthemic an unique. Doo wop gang vocals mesh perfectly with Jay Allen’s straight rock n’ roll vocals while the guitars chug along and the drums slam along to a steady and not too fast beat. The perfect placement of rises and falls in the volume and energy make this an instant classic and I instantly understood why Maximum Volume Music claimed that it was impossible to listen to this album without smiling.
“Little Daggers” continues with the anthemic vibe put out there by the opening track. This song brings a little more angst to the album. It’s a bit more abrasive but not aggressive. There’s a reoccuring part in this that I wasn’t able to quite figure out if it was a keyboard or a synth but, regardless, it was catchy and, as a pianist myself, was something I instantly caught on to and loved. Whereas “Cry A Little Tear” had a bit of an old school feel to it due to the doo-wop sounding gang vocals, “Little Daggers” felt a bit more modern while still having clear nods to genres and bands of days gone by. The way Jay Allen and his band are able to create a completely new sound while still paying homage to the musicians that came before them is amazing and is my favorite aspect of this band.
The quick eight track album continues with “Grow Some Stones” which opens with an echoey guitar strum before the slamming piano comes in. Think Jerry Lee Lewis meets something a bit more raw and a bit more punk, this song was instantly a favorite of mine. Jay’s voice takes a more gravely approach in this song that I absolutely love but it was also still clearly Jay. He has a voice that, although familiar, stands out like a sore thumb in the best way. That mixed with the unique styling behind the vocals, and the upbeat and fun-at-heart vibe that this song gives up, I instantly found myself in the middle of a sweaty venue dancing my heart out instead of sitting my desk.
“Big Lie” was another favorite of mine. This track is one of those tracks that you want to take with you to the beach. It screams sunshine, cold beers, and good friends. The smile that took over my face as soon as I hit play on this album grew instantly as this song played on. Although the vocals seem to have a little bit of a darker feel to them, this song is still absolutely rocking. Although I struggle to compare this musicially to Bruce Springsteen, there’s this working class vibe to it that keeps bringing Bruce’s name to my head. Again, the nods to the greats before him are clear but Jay absolutely has a sound all of his own.
Although the ending of “Big Lie” seems sudden, “Chopped Liver” picks up the energy right away with a more punk influenced sound than heard before. The words fly by but at no point did this track feel frantic. This is another track that instantly transported me from my house to a sweaty and packed venues. Even during the slower portion of this song, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in the middle of a modest mosh pit with beers sloshing all over the place and sweat dripping down my back. What I’m trying to say is that out of all of the albums I have reviewed instantly, this one has a sense of energy portrayed through just the music that I haven’t experienced in quite awhile and I loved it.
“Beautiful Chaos” starts off feeling a bit restrained compared to the previous tracks but, no need to fear, Jay’s voice keeps this song from feeling too refined. Although there’s so much going on in this song as far as instrumentation goes, there’s something calming about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. If nothing else, this track is a perfect example of how versatile this group can be while still staying completely true to the sound that only Jay Allen and The Archcriminals can pull off. That versatility is showed off yet again as the album quickly moves into “I’ll Be Damned” which brings an almost bluesy vibe to the album that has yet to be heard. I love the fact that even though “I’ll Be Damned” is the second to last track on this album, this group refuses to stop throwing in curve balls and, out of all of the curve balls thrown as far as genre and vibe goes, this one is my favorite.
Closing out the album is “Over and Over” which made want to list to the album, well, over and over again. This closing track is fast and in your face in a way that the previous songs hadn’t been. Playful with breaks in the music to emphasis words and phrases, there are many elements in this track that I wish had been scattered throughout the rest of this album but, again, that seems to be the genius of this group. They are able to take so many elements of various genres and mesh them all into one genre that can only be described as “Jay Allen and the Archcriminals” and that’s what makes this band so amazing.
I’ve been getting more and more restless as the days continue to go by without live music. I don’t think I realized just how much I rely on concerts in my life and now, without them, I am absolutely struggling to get through the days but albums like “Fun is Fun, The Trilogy is Done” by Jay Allen and the Archciminals are one of the few things helping me cope with this new life. I can’t thank them enough for bringing a smile to my face that is sure to last throughout the day.
My Favorite Track(s): “Grow Some Stones”; “Big Lie”
For Fans Of: Happy Hours at Dive Bars; Smiling; Old Sounds With a Modern Twist
Dance-ability: 7.2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie kept trying to lay on my arms as I tried to type this; Autumn screamed as she stood by her food dish even though I had just fed her
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
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