Give Jesus Jones a medal for making its new album, Perverse, a quick 45 minutes long. The group’s last one, 1991’s Doubt, with hit ”Right Here, Right Now,” made them famous; success could have gone to their heads and inspired a 70-minute monster.
Instead, the band’s singer-songwriter-main man Mike Edwards would simply like us to believe that he has more or less reinvented rock & roll. That’s because he chopped up the sound of the group’s bass, guitar, and drum assaults into digital bits, then rebuilt it all on a computer so it rushes at us faster than unassisted human beings could possibly make it move.
The result, a marriage of rock and savage techno, sounds fresh and exciting, at least for a while. Edwards’ voice comes arching through the clattering mix, singing melodies that charm your socks off; all you know, at first, is that you’re off on an exhilarating ride.
Soon the words start sinking in. Can the computer revolution really be the thrill Edwards says it is in the first song, ”Zeroes and Ones”? Not likely. What does he mean, in ”The Right Decision,” when he says there’s no such thing as one? Eventually you figure it out; he’s the latest in a long line of rock stars to wonder how to be successful in a corrupt world without selling out.
But by that time there’s another problem: The melodies have begun to sound too much the same. That leaves you back where you started, liking the record mainly for its verve, though you might also admire the deliberately sludge-like industrial sounds that turn a sappy song like ”Yellow Brown” into a genuinely desolate landscape of ecological waste. Final judgement? The record should have been even shorter. Jesus Jones can dance pretty fast, but not fast enough to stretch a few neat new sounds into a full album. B