Jolly – “Family”


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I am so happy to be reviewing a brand new Jolly album.  I’ve been a Patreon supporter of the band for a couple years at least, and seeing them progress from inactivity to steady creative power has been very rewarding.  I first saw them live with Riverside in Chicago back in 2013, which also happens to be the last year they released an album.  They are back now with an album called “Family”, which releases on June 22nd.

Jolly hails from New York, NY.  The band includes Anadale on vocals and guitar, Joe Reilly on keys and sampling, Anthony Rondinone on bass and vocals, and Louis Abramson on drums.  I am consistently impressed with the musical prowess of these four artists, and following them as they learn and grow has been a joy.  These guys are intense and raw musicians.  From Anadale’s mesmerizing vocals to Joe’s song-defining melodies to Anthony’s powerful bass notes to Louis’ immense drum performance, Jolly has chops, but also artistic sensibility.

If you are not familiar with Jolly, they play a style of music that is difficult to pigeonhole.  They obviously have trappings from alternative rock, such as the heavily distorted guitars, but you can also hear hefty pop sensibilities, such as the well-crafted choruses and bright melodies.  You can also hear influences from various other genres, such film scores, R&B, and progressive metal.  So, while you will hear lush keyboard melodies mixed with technical drums, the band never takes themselves too seriously.  They kinda do their own thing, and they are all the better for it.  Jolly simply has their own sound.  In fact, they seem like one of those bands that just doesn’t have much influence from prog at all, and they don’t really seem to like that label.  Of course, that is what all the cool prog guys are doing nowadays.

Now, the album comes in two parts.  The official album has nine tracks.  The bonus disc comes with the deluxe version and has five more songs.  Let me just put it this way: There is absolutely no reason to bypass the deluxe version.  The extra five songs are worth every penny, and altogether the deluxe version is one of the best albums of 2019 thus far.

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So, let’s take a look at each disc.  The first disc has heavier tracks, interludes, and ballads.  All of them add to the experience.  “Lie to Me” opens the album with an expansive, heavy sound, not to mention the fantastic chorus.  “Lazarus (Space Marsala) is one of my favorite songs of the year.  It is brilliantly balanced between heavy and spacey.  As it progresses, it feels more and more nomadic and the heaviness settles in more deeply.  “Let Go” is not only a great “epic” of sorts with lots of transitions, but the video itself pays homage to Piotr (RIP) of Riverside and Jolly’s tour with the band.  “Ava” is another favorite.  It is bright, colorful, and upbeat; and the last half is unforgettable.  “Circuit Heaven” is a lush, harmonious, atmospheric track that I’ve literally had stuck in my head for weeks.

All of those songs are bigger and heavier overall, but the first disc has some softer tracks to explore, too.  “Rain” is catchy modern pop song with lots of personality and atmosphere.  “Violet” has some R&B influence in the groove, and the chorus is highly contagious.  “With Me” is a balladic end to the main album, and it interestingly seems to play right into “Love”, the balladic first track on the bonus disc.

Moving to the second disc, it starts with the looping “Love”, and moves on to a reprise of “Let Go” and also an acoustic reprise/version of “Ava”.  “Masquerade” comes next, and is the single heaviest song I think Jolly has ever produced.  It is riffy, unrelenting, and monolithic.  I absolutely love the groovy chorus, and I’ve been blasting this in my car with the windows down so everyone else in the world can hear it.  It is probably my favorite on either disc.  After that smoking hot track, the album ends with a wonderful ballad called “For Isaac”.

It took around 6 years to get a new Jolly album, but it is definitely worth the wait!  “Family” is nostalgic and warm, yet heavy and colorful.  The songs are diverse and offer a look at various sides to the band’s writing style and personality.  This album might be the most “Jolly” album they have created, as you really feel like you are getting a look inside their collective brain.  I’m not sure about the future of the band, but “Family” needs to be in your collection.  Go pre-order it below.

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