This week sees Australia’s Julia Jacklin follow up her pair of gently affecting singles with the rest of her debut offering: ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’. The eleven tracks on offer are sweet, melancholic affairs with melodies wearing their influences on their sleeves but, essentially, this is yet another accomplished indie-folk confessional. That’s not to say there’s anything really wrong here, it’s just the folksters curse to follow genre rules yet also make a lasting impression. A hard trick to pull off.
Jacklin possess a fine voice, nearing a country timbre at times, and the album's guitar bite and punchy production do help ground tracks that at times seem too wistful. Still, as a whole the LP’s similar tempos and approach cause the whole thing to float by like a long-lost memory, nice when you’ve clasped on to it but soon it’ll be running through your fingers and out of sight. Testament to this fact is that when Jacklin steps it up a gear you really start to hear her. Opener ‘Poolside’, with its walking bass-line and guitar solo makes for a brilliant slice of dream pop, while the raucous ‘Coming Of Age’ proves that her tender voice can work well with the rockers sonic palette.
Midpoint ‘Motherland’ stands as the best executed example of the album’s character, a strongly crafted chorus coupled with well-judged production choices elevating the sorrow to more tangible and textured level. There’s sincere and tear-jerking material to mine here, it just needs to be polished and presented in a new manner — for now we’ll just have to keenly keep an eye out for album deux.
In these heady days where the likes of Father John Misty and Courtney Barnett rule the current alternative scene, anything wishing to grab a piece of the pie really has to pack a punch. ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ is sadly not it. Perhaps we live in a cruel world where, due to the sheer choice on offer, albums like ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ wont be ranked higher.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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