Richard Vain’s origin story of casual, alcohol-aided transition from solo project to three-piece somewhat belies their strong musical focus. Even on a relaxed first listen, Night Jammer coyly presents itself as an informal, post-punk jaunt.
A closer inspection reveals subtleties in composition and mastering that are the hallmark of a razor-sharp album. Richard Vain’s debut through Big Neck Records confirms the adage that there’s genius in making the complex look simple.
Beginning with “Tremors,” Night Jammer rises from a loose pile of lush sound. Organic drums uplift guitar wrapped in fuzz. Wet, warm reverb drapes over singer/guitarist Jered’s baritone vocals. The band then reveals synth, rough-hewn lead guitar, and frenetic tambourine until they can no longer contain themselves. The song bursts into a noisy, wild release, setting the tone for Night Jammer.
There’s definitely whimsy to Night Jammer’s tonal variety. Whether it’s the oscillation nearing the end of “Ratz” or keyboardist Carbomb’s reversed synth falling out of time in “Encounter,” Richard Vain plays with sonic possibilities fearlessly.
Of course, too much experimentation might risk muddying the waters of an album. Night Jammer escapes this pitfall, exhibiting exacting musical cohesion. From the twangy, slow jam “Behind The Eyes” to the upbeat, punky “Tar Pit,” no instrument feels unnecessary, and every song is tight-knit. Jered and Carbomb constantly play off of one another’s strengths, writing keen melodies without jostling each other for position.
Drummer Lugs expertly paces Carbomb and Jered’s melodies. Lugs’ drumming is so well-attuned to the needs of each song that he never overwhelms the music. Close attention to the drums, however, reveals witty hi-hat accents, charming drum-rim work, and fills that elevate transitions without unnecessary flash.
Night Jammer’s exactness encompasses not just individual songs, but the entire album’s sequencing. The album smoothly gradates between the lively bounce of songs like “Punks Inbred” to mellow, breathy tunes like “Recluse.” By repeatedly escalating and de-escalating, Night Jammer gives a spectrum of emotional experience.
Night Jammer delivers thoughtful pacing and casual charm for an easy listen on a busy day. The album also drips with smartly accented drumming and richly layered instrumentation to energize the engaged listener. With their debut album through Big Neck Records, Richard Vain firmly shake hands with the world, exuding a casual confidence supported by a sensational vision.