Javelins, Heavy Meadows (Suburban Sprawl Music/Quack! Media, 2008)
MP3: “Heavy Meadows”
Heavy Meadows is a record soaked with sound. Yeah, the kinetic rhythms of singer/drummer Matt Rickle and bassist Julian Wettlin that made Javelins‘ first LP No Plants, Just Animals so dynamic are still there. But they take a backseat to guitarist Matt Howard’s jangly, tremelo-laden guitars and subtle variations on a theme of New Wave. Upon first listen, the album seems like a euphoric musical jaunt through soft summer evenings and cool pastures of sonic bliss. But appearances are deceiving. There are flowers, but they’re always wilting. There’s summer, but it’s always ending. It’s easy to become transfixed on the lush aural landscape of Heavy Meadows, but it’s the heavy, more than the meadows, that comes through.
Opener “Flowers” begins with a jolting whole note — a supernova explosion that radiates all of the tonal elements that will make up the entirety of the album, demanding your attention then leaving you waiting for a second or two, shell-shocked, for the rest of the song. The title track follows, an idyllic dream song warped by the frustrating reality of love lost and concluding with a cuckoo clock chirp that comes off as an attempt to cloak the honesty of the lyrics, as if to laugh off the hurt for the sake of your friends’ comfort. “Out in the Sand” is a high point and easily the most danceable tune here, but like nearly all of the songs on Heavy Meadows, it ends with a reflection on loneliness.
Javelins didn’t just write a collection of random songs. They aimed to achieve a cohesive work of art, capturing in music the contradictory nature of the wounded lover — yearning equally for escape and shelter — and the trials of starting over to begin anew. The escape comes in the form of album closer, “Red Handed.” The very last lyric of the album (“And when you heard the answer it went something like this…”) cues a dramatic musical shift from a languorous shuffle to a hard-driving fanfare, with Javelins pounding eighth notes frantically and an echo-y trumpet call bellowing overhead for over two minutes. It’s the fastest they play on the entire album, and is the musical equivalent of release. After having so much weight on your shoulders, this is the sound of zero gravity. — Scotter Bragg
Javelins’ Record Release Party, w/ Lightening Love + Nouns • 7/26 • The Belmont