Shine On


Atlantic, 2006

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Sophomore albums are tough.  Whether your debut rode the charts or disappeared into oblivion, the pressure is doubled to deliver the next time out.

In the case of Aussie retro-rockers Jet, it was a heady ride up the charts as one domino after another fell.  In 2002 they sold out a 1,000-copy run of their self-published EP; in 2003 they were signed by Atlantic and released debut LP Get Born in October; in 2004 they got the call from Apple to license “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” for a pitch-perfect iPod campaign; and by 2005 they were opening for Oasis and regaling Rolling Stone writers.

The long road to Shine On was not all wine and roses, though.  This quartet of semi-notorious party boys is anchored by the Cester brothers -- Nic on lead vocals and guitar, Chris on drums and background vocals -- whose father passed away last year.  Not that Shine On is a glum affair; quite the opposite, as Jet – whose lineup also includes Cam Muncey (guitar and background vocals), Mark Wilson (bass and piano) --continue to assemble fond pastiches of bloozy Stones rock crossed with harmony-laden Beatlemania, with a pinch of AC/DC riffage thrown in for extra fuel.  There’s just an added degree of sincerity to the ballads here, a genuine sense of loss lurking between some of these lines.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Shine On’s several rockers feel slightly less acidic than those on Get Born, but no less energetic.  Lead single “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” has the requisite punch and swagger spiced with the welcome kitsch of a fat cowbell line.  “Rip It Up” is just what the title implies, a furious rant with a driving beat.  The more melodic but equally intense “Hey Kids” throws in a pair of surprises -- a political lyric slamming formerly idealistic baby boomers for turning into everything they once despised, and a stop-start breakdown that takes it down to nothing but Hammond organ.  In the end, though, “That’s All Lies” is the only song here to approach the dark edge of Get Born’s “Cold Hard Bitch.”

The mid-tempo numbers are where the boy’s Beatles fetish comes on strong.  “Bring It On Back,” “Stand Up” and “Come On Come On” all benefit from punchy, imaginative arrangements that judiciously employ keys, strings and even hints of shades-of-George-Harrison sitar.  The otherwise rather Black Crowes-ish “Skin & Bones” opens with a Hammond solo that would make Billy Preston smile.  And the intriguing experiment “Shiny Magazine” goes for the trifecta with its rich harmonics, airy George Martin-esque production, and Harrisonesque “weeping” slide solo.

The ballads -- a surprising specialty of this multi-dimensional group -- are right up there with Get Born’s luminescent “Look What You’ve Done.”  ”Kings Horses” has a sing-songy quality to the early verses that makes the mood shift that much more powerful when things get serious as the music crescendos in the second half.  “Eleanor” -- no “Rigby” -- matches a steady-rolling acoustic melody with rich harmonies.  And the title tune is Nic Cester’s magnificent tribute to his pop, a rich, soaring piano ballad full of reflections on life and loss and getting on with it without forgetting, burnished by smartly-arranged background vocals and a subdued horn section.

The one real flaw to Shine On is the sequencing.  Get Born features a great one-two-three punch of rockers followed by a gorgeous ballad; not so here.  Shine On opens with a 20-second song fragment whose significance you don’t comprehend until almost an hour later, and follows with the chugging, rather pedestrian “Holiday,” a likelier candidate for position 12 or 13 on this 15-song disc than right up front.  As it is, the disc doesn’t really get rolling until track three (“Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”) kicks in.

Better sequencing would land this strong, confident sophomore disc an A-.  As it is…

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.