My Jerusalem – Preachers

My Jerusalem have always seemed like kind of a super group. Featuring Jeff Klein, touring member of and Dave Rosser, permanent member of the Twilight Singers, Ashley Dzerigian of Great Northern, Rick Nelson of the Polyphonic Spree and Cully Symington of Bishop Allen. It’s like a Marvel Team-Up comic except it skips the boring staples like Wolverine and goes straight for the cool, obscure characters like [I don't know any, but the metaphor still stands]. Their previous album Gone for Good was a reasonably solid effort that put them on a bunch of people’s radar. I know I, for one, was really eager to see more. With Preachers, however, the band have drastically stepped away from the sound of Gone for Good – in particular, gone is the fanfare of their previous album. There are less triumphant trumpets, fewer catchy toe-tappers and fewer songs where melody takes priority. To get to the question I know a lot of people want answered right away – no, this album doesn’t have it’s “Sweet Chariot”. That’s not a bad thing, though. Preachers is an album entirely its own, and it couldn’t be better off for it.

First and foremost, I feel like I should say that Preachers is (with several exceptions) a pretty dark album. Describing an album as “dark” tends to have a negative stigma these days. People tend to associate “dark” music with music that’s depressing, slow or over dramatic. Preachers falls into none of these traps. It’s dark more in the Greg Ddulli-esque sinister fashion (in this way, many of the songs manage to even be sinister while at the same time sounding uplifting, like the wonderfully building “Death Valley”). Throughout Preachers, you get the sense that Jeff Klein is almost floating above his lyrics. He comes across as an all-knowing narrator who isn’t surprised or grief-stricken by any of this music. He even allows himself to become emotionally invested without it ever once seeming forced or maudlin. In fact, some of the best moments on the album come from Klein getting wrapped up in the song, with the singing suddenly turning into shouting and the instruments following suit – a perfect example being the final song on the album, “I Left my conscience in you”. The track begins as a soft, acoustic lullaby about a past relationship. However, at the three minute mark, the song escapes itself and becomes more about the pain and confusion of that relationship. Klein’s voice strains over the track and the music twists into something really powerful. It’s a moment of chaos music done very well.

This breaking of form happens several times on the album, but if anything, those moments validate the coolness that prevails on those tracks. Take the opening (and title) song, “Preachers”. The calm beat continues as Klein narrates, but when the situation escalates and Klein begins yelling over the track, the main riff of the song sounds even cooler upon its return. The stand-out track on the album, “Devoe”, takes almost half its run time before the kick that personifies, and it’s all the better for it. It adds importance to the tone-shift later on in the song, and is a non-verbal reinforcement when Klein says “If I could be the one you wanted, not fuck around”. It even changes the song upon repeat-listens; the first two minutes of the song which initially sounded like they were going to be the foundation of the track are in fact non-escalating build-up. When you know that, you can hear what’s squirming underneath the surface in those lyrics, and “Devoe” becomes the most powerful track on the record.

It may surprise you there are some sweet and even goofy moments on the album. “Born in the Belly” is a catchy rock-anthem that commands you move along with it. “This Time” is a rolling, almost rockabilly tune that has a lot of silly charm to it. “Mono” (while opening with the lyric “You’re ganna die in this room”) is a calm, heartfelt expression of passion whose leading line of “I wanna be the one who rolls you over” could be taken two ways – and one of them is nice (the other one really isn’t though)! “Chameleon”, on the other hand, seems like a sweet, early crowd-favourite that’s really hard not to sing along with.

I think a good way to describe the album would be that it would be really something to see live. While Preachers itself is a great listen, from it’s screams to its subtle suggestions, it’s an album with so much passion and meaning it feels like the perfect poster for the bands live act. I know how these guys play, and I can assure you that seeing them get swept up into Preachers would be really something (we already know the live version of “Shatter Together” really outshines its album version). Whether or not you get the chance to see these guys on stage, Preachers is an album that takes risks, tells stories and contains some damned fine songs.


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