Fans of Jimmy Century are an alternative pop duo consisting of vocalist/songwriter and voice actor Alicia Perrone along with bassist/songwriter and producer Victor James. They describe themselves memorably as ‘an original indiewave, modwave, neo noir duo with trip hop influences’. While descriptions can only do so much justice, they combine the sultry sensuality of Goldfrapp and Portishead, the sassy modern pop of St. Vincent and the quirky charm of pop’s great eccentric visionaries like Kate Bush.
Having signed a deal in 2013, their music has featured in a lengthy list of films and well known shows, with the track Hot Sahara proving their most popular, soundtracking a threesome scene in The L Word (ahem). This album, eSensuals, consists of twelve tracks and contains several previously released singles.
One of these singles, All My Friends Are Ice Queens, starts the album and makes a fine introduction to FOJC’s unique style. It’s a highly entertaining jazzy number that would make the perfect backdrop to a burlesque show, with Alicia Perrine’s charismatic vocals capturing your attention immediately. The dry, witty lyrics are as colourful and inventive as the music: “All my friends are ice queens, wicked Disney, after dark dreams….”. The quirky spoken word sections only add to the charm.
The femme fatale theme continues with the euphoric alternative disco of the incredibly catchy and effortlessly sexy Tigra Girl. You can hear the influence of Madonna’s subversive mid-90’s period in the instantly addictive chorus refrain, as well as the spirit of female sexual emancipation: “Tigras run around topless, Tigras run round barefoot…”. A fantastic dance track which was an obvious choice as a single.
The same goes for the entertaining rockrap/electropunk genre-bending iTunes UK Top 40 hit Best of My Generation (Johnny Rotten). The lyrics are sassy throughout, with a killer vocal hook on the latter half of the chorus: “I’m the best of my generation, you are a guest of my generation and I’m feel real Johnny Rotten so back your punk ass up“.
The aforementioned Hot Sahara is FOJC at their most sensual, with a breathy, seductive vocal performance from Alicia that feels like it should be X-rated. Musically, it’s built around a brooding synth bassline and as always, the production is peerless. Lyrically, it maintains the standard of slaying one-liners: “Born under a fire sign, legends are born in the summertime…”.
Fifth track Liquid Chill keeps the momentum flowing with its bouncy bassline and irresistible “Rollin, Rollin, Rollin’…” chorus hook. Ghosts of Paradise has a very different but equally memorable chorus, with Alicia expressing her impressive vocal power and range. It’s also an excellent example of this creative duo’s nuanced and sophisticated songwriting ability.
Excellently named The Last Summer of Mad Whips is a maddeningly catchy burst of 80’s inspired pop, and another reminder that this lady is a free spirit: “When the cruel winter come, I’mma run away, I’m gonna disappear fast….”. This amusingly cocky attitude and eighties sound brought to mind the infectious brat-pop of Charlie XCX.
The inspiration bleeds into the brilliant rock-infused, hook-laden anthem Together in White Leather (Dolce Vita). St. Vincent will find herself wishing for a few of these songs in her canon when she hears them. After the radical eclecticism of the album’s first half, Cherry Drops helps forge a solid sonic identity with its alt. disco vibe and some opaque lyrics on the chorus: “You say, I say, hearts are brave, hearts are mustangs…”.
Noirstar (Memories of His City) is one the album’s more mellow and moody moments, working as a nice contrast. If this track hasn’t yet featured on a film soundtrack, it deserves to. Under The Milky Way is another slight departure, recorded as a live acoustic version. With just vocal and guitar, it once again allows their well crafted songwriting to shine but with vulnerability on display for the first time: “I wish I knew what you are looking for….”. The ice is starting to melt by this point, clearly.
The closing track is an acoustic version as well, this one of the preceding Ghosts of Paradise. This version, featuring some very fine guitar work, also allows the poetic power of Perrine’s lyrics to take the spotlight more: “I wanna taste the power that got away, and though the violet shrinks in chains I’m still your desert flower….”. These two last songs show that there’s an emotional depth to their music that is usually more understated.
Overall, this is a rollercoaster ride of an album that manages to traverse a huge range of genres, blends them together seamlessly and yet still manages to be commercial and catchy. It’s a testament to the talents of this gifted duo and will be particularly appreciated by pop lovers who are tired of the vanilla-flavoured modern pop that occupies the charts. In short, the world is about to become fans of Fans of Jimmy Century.
VERDICT = 9.1 out of 10
Listen to the album: