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All Night Cinema

Just Jack

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Album Review

Riding on the coattails of the mockney pop wave that briefly dominated the charts in 2007, MC/vocalist Jack Allsopp, aka Just Jack, scored an unexpected number two hit with his the Streets-go-disco satire of talent shows, "Starz in Their Eyes." Like fellow scenesters Lily Allen and Jack Peñate, Allsopp appears to have spent the subsequent two years reinventing his signature sound, presumably in an attempt to distance himself from the passing fad that launched his career. And while All Night Cinema might not be as chart-friendly as Allen's It's Not Me, It's You or as radical a departure as Peñate's Afro-Cuban house fusion, Everything Is New (his trademark laid-back laconic delivery and everyday-life lyrics are still here in abundance), his third album, All Night Cinema, is still a much more inventive affair than his previous stoner hip-hop-heavy Overtones. Indeed, lead single "Embers" is one of the most intriguing singles of the year, a gorgeously epic production that opens with basic handclap rhythms, a nagging guitar hook, and plucked strings and slowly builds up to a stunning crescendo of swirling symphonies and multi-layered vocals. It's already been used as the soundtrack to a famous sports TV commercial, but expect it to be even more ubiquitous, such is its widescreen cinematic nature. Elsewhere, the jagged guitars and percussive rhythms of "So Wrong" echo the freewheeling art rock of Brazilian outfit CSS; "253" is a guilt-ridden lament to a fading romance whose harmonica solos, ska beats, and folk violins evoke the Gypsy pop of Dexys Midnight Runners; and the pulsating instrumental closer, "Basement," could give Bloc Party a run for their money in the indie dancefloor-filler stakes. Best of all is "Goth in the Disco," a deadpan tale of arson in a nightclub, set against a backdrop of Calvin Harris-style kaleidoscopic synths and '80s processed beats. The album is less successful when it reverts back to more familiar territory. The casual account of a man's final fateful day on the acoustic one-man band instrumentation of "The Day I Died" veers towards Jack Johnson-esque MOR territory, while the aimless pseudo-funk of "Astronaut" harks back to the primitive production of his largely forgotten debut, The Outer Marker. However, while Mike Skinner seems to have lost his everyman appeal, All Night Cinema's understated reflections of British life, combined with its experimental nature and classical leanings, position Just Jack as the U.K.'s premier urban poet. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Biography

Born: 18 May 1975 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Sometimes a little Madness can help a lot. Jack Allsopp — better known as Just Jack — had worked as a flower arranger, gardener, and cleaner ("anything to put crust on the table") before he landed a job at RGRecords. Allsopp casually handed over a copy of his demo to the label's owner, Chas Smash, the man who used to sing and dance up a storm in Madness. Smash fell in love with Just Jack's sound and quickly signed Allsopp to a four-album deal. It was a long time coming for the Camden,...
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All Night Cinema, Just Jack
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