The tracks contained on Free Money, the new album from The Jack Moves, call back a romanticized period of politics, music, and production. The duo of Zee Desmondes and Teddy Powell dig into their clear and deep affection for half-remembered mythologies, and a time when things were simpler. The result is a timeless album that’s exactly appropriate for the now.
JP Plunier sits in the producer’s seat – capturing the atmosphere of tunes that are discovered by serendipity. The Jack Moves spend attention in the fine-tuning. They convey the breezy nature of a song that never sounds better than in the time before you know it’s name. But then the vibe becomes infectious and become a part of the fabric of your life. Theses are the sounds that eat into you when you accidentally discover a band playing from a boombox in a high window, or the window of a car. Somehow magic happens at every step of the Free Money sequence.
It’s true that there are some lyrical passages, especially in a track like “Nasty”, where we’re forced to wonder if it’s okay to enjoy this stuff as much as we do. The Jack Beats act like a conduit between all occasions that benefitted from the music of Prince, but all grown up and married to the desires of the contemporary scene. It’s a fine line that celebrates the female form without objectifying women. The Jack Moves navigate every issue with soft funk, sweet soul, and a wry smile.
The tongue is deep in cheek, and sardonic deprecation is best displayed on a high point of the album. On one hand ‘Lew Alcindor’ could be a portrait of basketball legend. On the other hand it’s a ballad of incredible tenderness with a focus of intimacy issues which asks, “Why cry over love?” in one breath, and evolves into the “I know you think I’m superman, that I’m the best, don’t worry baby, I’m just like all the rest.” This reassurance of mundanity deepens with progress; “Like a magician, I knew all the tricks. I wanted to be famous but I’m just a piece of shit” – a line delivered with unassuming
With subjects and sounds checking the rearview mirror for icons and influences, there could be an argument that Free Money is built on a bed of nostalgia, or that sentimentality undermines the contemporary value of the album. However, there’s enough sonic texture to pin the sequence firmly in 2018. Enhancing the classic timbre, there are seasoning flourishes of bleeps, and a vocal treatments. Passages like ‘You’re going to miss me’ bring focus to the modern radio listener, and reassures schedulers that there’s something here for everyone willing to listen.
“It isn’t love, we only fuck, and that’s okay” brings the self-awareness of what magic can happen if we stop believing in the aspirations of other fictions. The track ‘Red Lights’ feathers the brutal honesty of modern love with a string of exceptionally overstated compliments, reassurances, and seductive moves that Prince would have applauded.
The world has changed a lot in the three years since The Jack Moves released their eponymous debut album. Demands beyond the groove are placed on artists who occupy the space that deal in the details that The Jack Moves share. It isn’t enough for anything as simple as artistic progress to measure the progress of a band. Yet here we are, and with a unique and unforced style The Jack Moves deliver an album that’s moved beyond the elevated demands of the day. Deep fun, truly meaningful, and endlessly surprising; Free Money avoids cliché, and hits tradition with originality. There’s much to love here, and if you don’t love it, it’s still a great fucking album.