JOCKSTRAP - 'I Love You Jennifer B'

Published on 24 September 2022 at 01:59

By Paul Laird

Author of "The Birth And Impact Of Britpop: Mis-Shapes, Scenesters And Insatiable Ones"


I saw “Blue Velvet” for the first time in the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy.  


Kirkcaldy is a nowhere town that, at one point, was a somewhere town. It had a coal mine, it had  an industrial heritage thanks to the Nairn linoleum factory and it was the birthplace of *the* Adam  Smith. By the time I started secondary school, in 1985, all of that was history, although the  influence, and the scars of their demise, are still felt today.  


A seaside town that they forgot to bomb.  

Come armageddon.  


I appeared in three shows at the Adam Smith Theatre, “Camelot” with the Kirkcaldy Amateur  Operatic Society (KAOS), “Oliver!’, and “The King And I’. I was a chorus kid, singing, dancing and  prancing, with barely concealed glee. An innocent. The roar of the crowd. My face could still be  picked out in a cast photo in the foyer until very recently.  


Musical theatre. 

Like a young Steve Marriott I was. 

At some point the theatre started showing “art” films.  

Maybe they showed “Betty Blue”. 

I don’t know. 


But at some point in the early nineties they showed “Blue Velvet” and I went along with my best  friend, Chris, to see it. I didn’t know anything about the film. I didn’t know who David Lynch was.  I hadn’t watched “Twin Peaks”. I knew Laura Dern was in “Jurassic Park”. Maybe I thought “Blue  Velvet” would be like “Jurassic Park”? 


“Blue Velvet” wasn’t like “Jurassic Park”. 

At all. 


Before the opening credits had finished, I felt a terrible, and terribly real, sense of unease. The  slow motion fire truck, the white picket fence infused with a dreadful menace, the colours too  bright, too jolly, to the extent that they seemed devoid of colour and joy.  


I loved it. 


I haven't ever been all that interested in things that are predictable, things that, too carefully,  follow “the rules”. Perhaps that is because of my deeply conservative, religious, upbringing?  


“Blue Velvet” presented a familiar world of family, young love, adventure and mystery…but  absolutely everything about it was entirely unfamiliar. I couldn’t settle in my seat, I didn’t get any  answers to any of the myriad questions bubbling in my gut, and at times, I felt frightened. It was just  perfect. The antidote to the banal life I was “living”. 


I bet Jockstrap have seen “Blue Velvet”. 

I bet they love it. 


I Love You Jennifer B” is the aural equivalent of those opening scenes…clear blue skies, picket  fences, sunshine, flowers, smiling faces, but at every turn something else is happening,  something designed to expose the ridiculousness of the ordinary. Breaking every rule of the  language English. 


Georgia Ellery sounds like…sweetness and light, an innocent, the voice of an angel. But is it too  sweet? Is the light fading? What is innocence? Angels fall, no? Perhaps it is the contrast  between that voice and the dizzying array of sounds, effects, tricks and slips of the music that  gives rise to the feeling that you are not in Kansas anymore. 


I feel sick, my organs bob about in the dark, in a mustard mist, in my stomach vase” “Your arms and legs, covered in little white hairs, like a carpet…no like a mohair sweater” “Hurting is one thing, but waiting’s another” 


By the time we reach the end of this affair, my head is spinning… 


I’m grasping for the one thing this reminds me of, the one band or artist I can say “Oh, this is a bit  like…”, so that the people who get cross with me for never actually writing about the music in  these “reviews” will have to stay in their box. But I can’t…ideas, inspirations, come flying from  here and there, but never stay long enough to tether themselves in your mind, or your heart, or  your stomach vase.  


Much like Italians Do It Better star, Glüme, the music here owes more to art and cinema than it  does to The Beatles and The Spice Girls. These are soundtracks to films that only exist in your  own head. These are songs that could hang on the walls of Tate Modern. But, unlike someone like Glüme, it is impossible to attach a genre label to anything that is happening here, Ellery and  her partner in whatever this is, Taylor Skye, have little interest in being the next big thing in electronic/indie/pop/blah, blah, fucking blah.  


Music, like all art, should make you think about things, make you feel things, make you change in some  invisible way…if it’s any good. Jockstrap are better than good, they are great. I know the people  who will agree, as importantly I know who will disagree…I’ve made my lists of naughty and nice,  there will be no need to check it twice.