In a manner not dissimilar to one of his heroes, Michael Gira of Swans, Justin K. Broadrick has an alternative outlet to the punishing music of his seminal project, Godflesh. His post-metal shoegaze project Jesu creates an uncanny mix of massive riffs, plinking melodies, and narcotic vocals. Yet whereas Gira’s Angels of Light is a more sentimental and gentle version of the epic bloodletting brought on by Swans, Jesu’s focus is unabashed, gut-punching nostalgia.
So it’s no surprise that Jesu’s new album, Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came, unapologetically rifles through the feelings Broadrick can’t leave behind. From his naked pining for some place … somewhere in opener “Homesick” through the sustained climax of “The Great Leveler,” Broadrick channels his childhood through the experience of fathering his two-year-old son. For all the hazy wash of Jesu’s music, it’s actually incredibly blunt.
Musically, the familiar tropes of the Jesu sound remain, but they’re somewhat refined. The punishing guitars are thicker and darker, defanged and molded into velvet textures. Atop them lie Broadrick’s soaring, processed vocals, sung in a near-whisper while detuned plinking dulcimer-like guitars dither about a series of variations. Highlights include the hooky title track, which centers around a real earworm of a melody from the aforementioned dulcimer guitars, and “The Great Leveler,” in which guitars, synths, and drums are supplemented by gorgeous, albeit somewhat syrupy, strings. The song picks up when the guitars become truly savage, contrasting beautifully with Broadrick’s spacey, Auto-Tuned vocal lilt.
Jesu fans will probably adore Everyday. And it could turn fence-sitters on to Broadrick’s oeuvre. Like most Jesu records, Everyday is a tad overlong. Still, when it hits, it hits hard. You just may find yourself a bit weepy when it’s all said and done. (Avalanche Recordings)