Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is my least favorite Jawbreaker album

Last week JAWBREAKER's 1994 album 24 Hour Revenge Therapy celebrated it's 175316 Hour (20 Year) Anniversary with a brand new remastered version on drummer Adam Pfaler's Black Ball Records and of course everyone was reminded of how so many music journalists, including just last week Pitchfork's Brandon Stosouy, call 24 Hour Revenge Therapy their "most beloved" album by the fans.

Well here is a very big fan that would place 24 Hour Revenge Therapy all the way at the bottom
Jawbreaker's four album. Here is why:

The first thing is the album has no strong song to kick off the album. Jawbreaker's previous album Bivuac kicks off with the powerful "Shield Your Eyes" and their 24 Hour Revenge Therapy  follow up begins with the almost equally powerful "Save Your Generation". These two songs, along with the classic "Want" that leads off the Jawbreaker's debut (and my first introduction to the band) are all awesome songs that really get the listener psyched for the following tracks. All off them make you think " This is the moment I have waited for. Drop the needle or press "play" on the CD player.sit back and get psyched.

24 Hour Revenge Therapy doesn't have that song. Instead it's lead off track "Boat Dream From the Hill", although in no way a bad song, sounds like it should be located a few tracks in. When the needle is dropped on the album and the listener sits back all bundled up in anticipation, the song is already going, leaving the listener thinking they need to play catch up.

24 Hour Revenge Therapy also has a very awkward ending. The other three albums have very triumphant and satisfying endings. Unfun's final track "Drone" ends in a fury of riffs and samples before closing out with feedback, Bivuac's closing title track has similar various noises ended finishing the sounds of guitars being laid against the amps, drum sticks winding down on cymbals,  like Jawbreaker may have down at the end of one of their concerts, and Dear You's finale, the almost all acoustic "Unlisted Track" ends the album perfectly.

24 Hour Revenge Therapy lacks that triumphant finale. It's last track "In Sadding Around" just sort of ends. No satisfaction is given.

The second thing weighing 24 Hour Revenge Therapy down in the order of my favorite Jawbreaker albums is the songs kind of a little too similar. In fact has anyone else noticed that the second and third tracks "Indictment" and "Boxcar" are pretty much the same song? Even their subject matter is very similar. I totally understand that both songs were written by the same person, are being recorded by the same band on the same album meaning obviously there are going to be similarities between the tracks but still . Maybe this would not be as noticeable, to me at least,  if the songs were a little more separated on the album. "Indictment" would have been great replacing "Boat Dream from the Hill" as the lead off track, with "Boxcar" near the beginning of side two, or  right before "Ache" (track 7) for the folks who have it on Compact Disc or Mp3.

Besides those two back to back songs, there are a few more remarkably similar songs on the album. Every song on Unfun, Bivuac (including the Chesterfield King 12" songs) and just about all on Dear You, I can recognize within the first few seconds. "Do You Still Hate Me" (Track 8) and "Jinx Removing" (Track 10) and "Boat Dream from the Hill" all sound very much alike and take until half way through the first verse, sometimes even  the first chorus, for me to be able to distinguish which is which

The third, and for me in 1994 the most disappointing aspect of the record is the production. When I first read ex Big Black (and future Shellac) singer/guitarist Steve Albini was going to be recording the next Jawbreaker album I was ecstatic. Albini has "engineered" (He always stated  how he hates to be called "producer") so many great albums. Some up to that point they included The Pixies' Surfer Rosa, Jesus Lizard's Goat, The Breeders' haunting debut The Pod, The Poster Children's excellent Daisychain Reaction, Superchunk's best album No Pocky for Kitty, of course Nirvana's In Utero, and Failure's much underrated debut Comfort. 

But 24 Hour Revenge Therapy just does not have that sharp, sound, or as Michael Azerod puts it in his awesome book Our Band Could Be Your Life: "The recordings were both very basic and very exacting. Albini used few special effects, got an aggressive, often violent guitar sound and made sure the rhythm slammed as one"  that you expect and enjoy in a Steve Albin engineered album.24 Hour Revenge Therapy sounds very murky Singer Blake Swartzenbach's voice sounds very buried in the mix, making his voice not sound so original and distinguishable from other band's singers. The ironic thing is that when I first heard the Michael James recorded Unfun, I thought is sounded very much  like and Albini "engineered" album.

I can;t stress enough that  I do not think 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is in any way a bad album. In my opinion it actually contains some of Blake's best lyrics while in Jawbreaker and future bands Jets to Brazil and Forgetters. It just has two very good (Bivuac and Dear You) and one incrdeible (Unfun) album just a little bit, at least to my ears, better.