20 March 2021 (released)
By the mid-60s, rock music was expanding out in every way possible. Bands at the fore were busting free from the basic blues chord progressions and the guitar-bass-drums formula, experimenting with every instrument and technology that they could get their hands on. So was born the ornate sub-genre of Baroque pop. Led by the scene's biggest early innovators, The Beatles and The Beach Boys (and their classically-trained producers), groups were using horns, reed instruments, harpsichords, and string quartets to fill out their sound and add harmonic texture. The songs became more lush and melancholic, expressing more than just teenage dancehall lust. The progressive textural nature would bleed seamlessly into the era of psychedelia that would be the ultimate hallmark of the '60s. Today, Baroque pop's influence has permeated everywhere with half the bands in existence claiming The Beatles as an influence. Indie rock since the turn of the century has largely appropriated these elements and yet as a genre in and of itself, Baroque pop seems somewhat relegated to the history books.
The Detroit duo Jobbaloon delivers a true Baroque pop offering, translated for the 21st century. The orchestration may be largely electronic and the shakes of minstrel tambourines have been swapped out for the clacks of a drum machine. However, the essence of the movement lives strong within the songs. Highlighted with bright, shamanic album art and metaphysical spoken word passages, The Invitation is a collection of short psychedelic vignettes that pairs hummable sing-song hooks with simple but effective drums and complimentary classical touches.
The record plays out in short pieces that flow smoothly from one another, often incorporating similar melodies into multiple songs to add to the concept album feel. A radio crackles in to offer a ponderous quote like a philosopher reading the news. The title track follows blending a trap-influenced beat with synths that mimic the waltzing sway of a string quartet. More transcendental recommendations come from your humble narrator, like a guide preparing you for a heavy trip. 'Bm' introduces the first proper vocals from Joshua Achatz. Wispy reverb trails chase and coalesce with his lilting refrain. On 'Aligned', the nursery rhyme-like piano is matched by Achetz vocals for an infectious pop melody.
Early single 'Baby Blue' grooves on an r&b beat that grows to a final meandering horn outro finding itself somewhere between Beirut and Mellotron-laden Beatles. 'All I Need' has Achatz doing his best Thom Yorke, crooning out a similarly tortured yowl to the Radiohead frontman. The song also mimics the rainy day trudge of a track like 'Karma Police'. The final vignette 'Days' finishes on a more hopeful swing. Achetz emphatically waxes poetic about the future. Horns score the trip off into the sunset.
The Invitation is a quick trip into the psyche. At a scant 20 minutes, Jobbaloon doesn't waste time belabouring points or instrumentally wanking. The classical elements add great texture without detracting from the core message or drowning out the underlying songwriting. True Baroque pop for modern times.