It’s been 6 years since I last heard anything from (the Incredible?) Jolly. After their promising two part album series “The Audio Guide to Happiness,” the band went the Patreon route (not a route that I am into) to work on their next album. They started releasing a song at a time for what would become “Family.” I did get the first track “Ava” and found it rather dull.
Once I realized more about Patreon, I figured I’d check back when the “Family” album was done. I prefer hearing an album as a whole and not in pieces. I promptly forgot all about Jolly. 6 years passed and was surprised to get this promo in my inbox. Oh, Jolly still exist. Glassville Records? Okay. They had a deal with InsideOut before Patreon and now they are on an unknown indie. Whatever momentum they had with “The Audio Guide to Happiness” has long evaporated.
Jolly still sound the same even after six years. They have a modern prog metal vibe. Take some Tool, mix in Porcupine Tree and Riverside. The music is good but the hooks that were there in the past aren’t quite as strong. “Lie to Me” and “Lazarus” start off the album and are rather unfocused. A big problem I’ve had with Jolly is that singer/guitarist Anadale isn’t a great singer. He is okay and carries a tune but just isn’t the world class vocalist I would expect. 6 years later, he sounds the same.
Then comes the tracks “Rain,” the aforementioned “Ava” and “Who Will Remember.” The first two are indeed a bit dull and boring. “Who Will Remember” is an interlude which on a 9 track album that took 6 years to make, it seems like unnecessary filler. “Let Go” is easily the best track on the album. It’s over 10 minutes and has strong hooks and great music. I wish the rest of the album was this strong.
“Violet” slides back a bit. When it kicks in (a little), it’s a decent song but nothing incredible. Overprocessed vocals over plodding music start the track “Circuit Heaven.” The Stephen Hawking-esque vocal track doesn’t work for me either. But again, the track kicks in and it gets better. It makes me wonder what an outside producer could have done with “Family.” Jolly are talented but it feels like they are too clever for their own good.
The album closes with the ballad “With Me.” Sadly it underscores the need for a stronger vocalist as Anadale just doesn’t cut it. His guitar solo on the track however is an album highlight. But the album is short on highlights. I had forgotten about Jolly and “Family” does a good job of reminding me about what I liked and didn’t about them. They say “Jolly loves you.” I am guessing after this review they won’t love me, neither will their family (their fans for which the title was named). But I was hoping for a surprise and got less than that.
Glad I didn’t hang around on Patreon.
Label: Glassville Records
Release Date: 22 June 2019