Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review: Gentleman Reg - Jet Black (* * * *)

Gentleman Reg is the recording name for Canadian singer/songwriter Reg Vermue, who released his fourth album, Jet Black, today. The record is only his second to cross the border and is actually the first time in five years that Vermue has released new material. Though I hadn't previously been exposed to his music, the wait was apparently worth it. Jet Black is a hook-filled pop album marked by the Gentleman's unique tenor voice and exceptional sense of melody and style.

On the new record, Reg transitions between low-key indie pop tunes to smooth rock 'n' roll all with a great deal of charm and wit. On the more (relatively) rowdy end, we're treated to the incredibly catchy "You Can't Get It Back," the stealthy, sleek "How We Exit," and opener "Coastline," which feels like a sunny west-coast pop number with backing vocals from Land of Talk's Elizabeth Powell. It's difficult to exaggerate the stick-in-your-head-for-days melodies and stylish presentation that makes these songs so fun and immediately enjoyable; you'll just have to hear it for yourself.

At every turn, Vermue throws in a bit of the unexpected without making any distracting detours. Notable examples include "We're In A Thunderstorm," which combines acoustic guitar with a techno-inspired beat, and "Everlong," featuring slinky keys and sparse percussion in a fascinating offbeat pop tune. Vermue also slows things down occasionally, making time for gentler tunes like the simply beautiful "When Heroes Change Professions" and the lovely duet "Rewind." Reg proves himself just as capable here, and the songs round out the record well, but I found the upbeat side of the album to have the majority of the best tracks.

Jet Black can feel a little schizophrenic at times, but the variety of tempos and emotions is held together by Vermue's wonderfully peculiar lyrics and obvious talent as a musician that makes him adept at covering so much territory with apparent ease. Even at the album's most intense moments, the music relies on subtle instrumental textures more than noisy guitar and drum riffs, and the unique approach keeps the music feeling light and fresh. Jet Black is an exciting and fun indie rock record and a very welcome return for (or introduction to) Gentleman Reg.

2 comments:

Lidia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lidia said...

Hello Cris,
How do you do?
I was looking for a lyric of Gentleman Reg, but couldn't find it anywhere. Do you know where can I find it? It is call Rewind.
Thanks a lot.