Jockstrap’s ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ was a debut album for our time, an addictive and restlessly inventive collision between delicate human expression and disruptive digital sorcery; no surprise it landed a well-deserved Mercury Prize nomination. Now, a year later, the duo return with ‘I<3UQTINVU’ (I Love You Cutie, I Envy You), a fully reworked version of the album, taking what was already a mesmerisingly vibrant concoction and refracting it through yet further layers of mutation, creating a new kaleidoscope of broken voice shards, fragmented acoustics and cyberpunk electronics.
The mad scientist behind the decks of Jockstrap is Taylor Skye, and during the making of the debut album, his unstoppably creative mind amused itself by conjuring up alternative versions of the songs they were working on, a process that long-term observers will remember echoes 2020’s ‘Beavercore’ EP, a rework of their breakthrough release, the EP ‘Wicked City’.
And so we get ‘Good Girl’, a vastly transformed new incarnation of ‘Jennifer B’, with echoes of the club energy of Disclosure, while the warped, manic ‘Red Eye’ lands somewhere between horrorcore and hyperpop. ‘All Roads Lead to London’ reimagines ‘Concrete Over Water’, with lyrics from Lewisham rapper Coby Sey that build on themes from the original track, namely a wistful nostalgia for the stark, brutalist beauty of your home city.
‘Sexy’ is a tongue-in-cheek electroclash banger featuring London house producer babymorocco, its brashness slowly softened by the emergence of Georgia Ellery’s melancholy-tinged processed vocal sample. Even in this advanced-fantasia form of Jockstrap’s imagination, the same central dichotomy of the band remains between Ellery’s warm classicism and Skye’s sonic anarchism.
When Ellery’s organic frailty is allowed a window to express itself amid Skye’s maelstrom, it is all the more emotionally potent. On ‘I Touch’, the hit of her Joni Mitchell-intoned folk that we remember from ‘Glasgow’ is still intact, and Skye’s flourishes, while still mad, add to the beauty rather than subvert it. ‘Sexy 2’, similarly, is straight-ahead in its sincere beauty, Ellery singing, “I’ve fallen for a girl, I just met her on the floor” with sweetly innocent implications.
The tracks on ‘I<3UQTINVU’ are the bastard young of the songs that made up ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ – you get flashes of recognition, yes, but in most cases, the tracks have been passed through terrifyingly deviant avant-dance manipulations. Much more than a remix album, then, the sheer invention and thirst to push things forward demands that I<3UQTINVU’ must be considered as an entirely separate, and brilliant, full-length Jockstrap album on its own terms.
Release date: November 3, 2023
Record label: Rough Trade
The post Jockstrap – ‘I<3UQTINVU’ review: a step deeper into the duo’s warped minds appeared first on NME.