photo by Katie Chow

photo by Katie Chow

Listening to the first track off the new album from Jamaican Queens, you might pick up on the retro-sounding crooning and think this is harmless though very strange glam and electronica influenced loungy pop music. That is, until you catch the lyrics:

“I’ve got four little girls
so i cut my heart into
four little pieces
and still you want more
… and even though we’re lovers
you’ll learn
you can fall in love with anyone”
– You Can Fall In Love With Anyone

“Like a bird
tricked by a pane of glass
i smashed through the window of your love”
– Love Is Impossible

These are not your typical love songs. Clearly there’s something far more sinister (and interesting) at work here. As we get farther in, it goes farther out on that ledge with an edginess and experimentation in melodies that nicely complement the insecure, off-balance and Morrissey-morose sentiments. If there is such a thing as “feel good music,” then Jamaican Queens’ second album, aptly-titled Downers (on Freakish Pleasures), could be considered feel uncomfortable music.

At first I imagined Jamaican Queens, name-wise, to be a clever bit of wordplay from a hipster New York band, but as it turns out, these guys are from Detroit. The name came out of lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Spencer’s love of Jamaican dancehall music. He’s joined by Adam Pressley, Ryan Clancey and Charles Trees. While their debut album Wormfood focused on the subject of death (bet you never would have guessed that), this latest one centers its contemplations on the darker side of love and relationships, depression and anxiety. Stylistically, it’s all over the place, though the results is intriguing rather than disjointed. If you’re still on the fence with these guys, their hilariously disturbing video for “Love Is Impossible” should put you firmly on one side or the other.

The Jamaican Queens are currently entertaining and cheering up audiences across the U.S., so if you’re looking for a little something to restore your faith in humanity (or lose it entirely), check them out. They’re in Boston at The Sinclair on June 20th. From there it’s on to the Midwest, South and Texas. See their schedule for details.

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