For many years, I have held the belief that the only Jet's to Brazil album worth it's stuffing is the original release: Orange Rhyming Dictionary. The problem with having your first release be a masterpiece is that subsequent releases will have to live up to it or else they'll be a letdown. Four Cornered Night has grown on me, but still can't top the broodiness and power of that first release.
Part of the problem is the departure in tone, perhaps due to increased production. Many more instruments appear on this record than the first and they don't add anything particularly valuable other than polishing up the band's sound. And they seem to be striving for radio-friendly pop songs rather than self-indulgent dirges, which takes me right out of it.
I mean, the lyrics are still fantastic: "sickly surrender to cola remember machines / shaky somnambulist shiver out all your screams / go to the room with the chair and wait for your life / scared that the voices I hear may never be mine", "I'll know that you're gone for good / when the dawn kicks me awake / I'll dress and move on put on what I can take / so take and get on you sweet thing"... these lines should be bathed in immaculate songwriting and heart-rending melody, but they're just sort of mediocre pop tunes that I want to be so much more.
And really, that's the problem. My own expectations can never be lived up to. With a legacy that includes Jawbreaker and the first Jets To Brazil record, how does a songwriter go up from there? Frankly, they don't have to, they can do whatever they want. And Mr. Schwarzenbach wanted a dreamy and lush summer afternoon record not something that would be an unforgettable classic, apparently. I suppose he has enough of those.
1: You're Having The Time Of My Life
2: One Summer Last Fall
3: Air Traffic Control
4: Pale New Dawn
5: In The Summer's When You Really Know
6: Empty Picture Frame
7: Little Light
8: "Your X-Rays Have Just Come Back From The Lab And We Think We Know What The Problem Is"
9: Milk And Apples
10: Mid-Day Anonymous
12: Orange Rhyming Dictionary
13: All Things Good And Nice