Unless you’re The Chainsmokers, all bands mature by default. They learn more, gain different experiences, grow the odd bit of stubble. As expected, Birmingham trio JAWS have matured like one of Alex James’ fine cheeses. But the progression between 2014 debut ‘Be Slowly’ and follow-up ‘Simplicity’ is significant. They’ve gone from screaming nursery school kids to fully-fledged giants within a couple of years.
‘Be Slowly’ was a rough-around-the-edges first work. Songs about youth, first loves and alienation were delivered with a wide-spanning, anything goes ethos. But some moments lacked an edge, tinny synths stealing the spotlight instead of being a background object. Despite that, JAWS always had the potential to turn into a grunge-infested, kicking and screaming juggernaut.
‘Simplicity’ finds the group reaching that next phase in record time. Frontman Connor Schofield has a lyrical depth that he lacked first time round. Especially on ’17’, its portrait of anxiety (“there’s a beast on my back… got his claws down my neck”) dealing with pain in a smart, controlled way. ‘Work It Out’’s sun-kissed chorus sounds like the answer to Friendly Fires’ disappearing act. Production is rich and free to roam, nodding to the best moments on The 1975’s latest. And on ‘Right In Front Of Me’, JAWS sound like the UK’s answer to a reverb-drenched DIIV.
There’s still room to grow. ‘Simplicity’ doesn’t settle on one, distinguished identity. JAWS remain a band testing the water. The difference here, is that each time they dip their toes, they take several steps forwards.
‘Just a Boy’