Review: Jackie Trash - "One Thousand Years in a Dreamscape"

Jackie Trash - One Thousand Years in a Dreamscape
(Self-Released 2014)

Shedding the meta-humor and lowercase sarcasm of its predecessor, One Thousand Years in a Dreamscape builds a new sound upon Jackie Trash's former "tumblr-era emo" attitude, a description I manufactured for my review of 2013's wow so sad. Embracing a more mature approach to songwriting, the Canadian lo-fi pop project maintains its addictive attention to melody and emotion, but is also more open to experimentation. The new LP explores longer track lengths, allowing for radical mid-song shifts in sound, and is also not afraid into venture into ambient territory. While Jackie Trash may hold on to the fuzzy sound quality popularized by Julia Brown and friends, the brains behind the band, Linus Taylor, carves out a niche all his own by borrowing ideas from earlier alternative epics like Ok Computer and Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness.

Not to say the album is devoid of pop gems. Far from it, in fact. "Worthless Skeleton" opens One Thousand Years after a noisy introductory track. The song is carried by a twangy guitar riff that matches Taylor's vocal melodies note for note, a tambourine shimmering alongside it, urging the song forward. Though memorable, the more upbeat cuts such as the one just mentioned are upstaged by the album's sadder moments. "Lying On The Floor" is easily the most beautiful tune offered here; a drum machine and keyboard throb while acoustic guitar samples played backward swirl throughout. I know I compared Jackie Trash to Smashing Pumpkins last time around, but it's once again worth noting that this track could easily pass for one of their demos.

While tracks marked with quotation marks on the album's bandcamp page like "Absence" and "In August" may come as a shock even to tenured Jackie Trash fans, they make a lot more sense considering Taylor's reverence for experimental singer-songwriter Dean Blunt, who frequently includes long instrumental sections and bizarre but fascinating samples between and during songs. "Absence" especially fits this bill, featuring the female equivalent of the computer from Radiohead's "Fitter Happier", new age-y keyboards and clunky guitar strums, all floating above the sound of a synthesized choir.

The two final tracks represent both the climax and conclusion of One Thousand Years in a Dreamscape, interesting due to the fact that they are also the most understated songs on display. "Swingset" is driven by sparse, twangy plucking and spans a whole 5 minutes. It seems to keep my interest, though, to the tension held throughout, as if it were from Slint's Spiderland. "Bones" concludes things, a keyboard-led farewell piece that matches the level of lo-fi fuzz on wow so sad. When glockenspiel joins Taylor as he sings the cut's sing-songy chorus, I can't help but be reminded of the Sesame Street theme song somehow. There are many beautiful neo-lo-fi albums out there, but few achieve the level of epicism acihieved on One Thousand Years.