The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: Jesca Hoop – ‘Memories Are Now’ (Sub Pop)

  • 7/10
    - 7/10


Jesca Hoop’s fifth studio album ‘Memories Are Now’ features yet more strange and evocative lyrics.

Jesca Hoop is a singer songwriter from California, who resides in Manchester. Her career consists of several lucky brushes with the music industry. She began as a nanny to the children of Tom Waits, who recognised her talents and began to pass along her demo. The demo of ‘Seed Of Wonder’ ended up in the hands of DJ Nic Harcourt, who played her record on Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW. It became one of the most requested songs on the show.

Her debut album, Kismet, garnered the attention of Guy Garvey of Elbow, eventually leading to the single ‘Murder Of Birds’. Hoop’s discography also sports an album of duets with American singer-songwriter Sam Bean (a.k.a. Iron & Wine), titled Love Letter For Fire. Jesca Hoop’s deep, yet feminine vocals lay comfortably in between artists Feist and Fiona Apple. In Memories Are Now, we see her playfully toy with her vocal range and song structures, firmly establishing her talents and place in the arena of modern indie pop.

The album consists of nine songs and has a running time 39 minutes, making it succinct and short. Hoop manages to avoid the terrain of acoustic indulgence that many folk singer song writers fall into, as her longest track barely hits the six-minute mark. In the album title track, ‘Memories Are Now’, Hoop’s voice takes centre stage, the guitar is minimal and the song consists of semi-chanted lyrics on a bed of distant, airy notes. ‘Unsaid’ is a sonically louder track, parading a more conventional folk-rock sound.

Hoop’s songwriting however is strange and vague at times, ‘Animal Kingdom Chaotic’ is a clear example of this, she repeats “Take back control” and adopts Carol Beer of ‘Little Britain’’s phrase “Computer says no” on a jittery drum rhythm. Hoop’s vague writing style does however play to her strengths on ‘Pegasi’. This is a confessional ballad that sounds like a hymn, Hoop describes the vulnerabilities she faces relationships through the extended metaphor of a ride on a winged Pegasus. She sings “And my beloved rider fell from the stars into the sea / You’re of the earth / I’m pegasi”. The album overall is a distant vision into the intimate territory of love and relationships.

Ten years after her debut album, Kismet, Jesca Hoop successfully picks up and places herself in modern indie folk with Memories Are Now. At times, her lyrical contributions are strange, but her ability to create melody and texture makes the album a strong body of work. (7/10) (Benita Barden)

Listen to Memories Are Now here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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