Blackened Garage Pop For Young Heads and Old Souls
Benjamin Daures formerly of Creteens and Jack of Hearts has moved on to a much stranger project called Yussuf Jerusalem. And by “strange” I mean “unforgettable and bewitching.”
The young denizen of the Paris suburbs is taking garage rock in the epic direction prefigured by Thomas Function and the more recent Black Lips albums and blending in a lot of psychedelic pop and folk and black metal. That’s right. He’s gathering a cult of admirers who praise his music, not for the odd choice of influences, but for the way they make total sense when filtered through the prism of his unconventional mind.
In his songs of valor, death, and girls, the chaotic grind of black metal meets the fuzz and rumble of garage rock and the two become one, united by transcendentally catchy tunes. Trey Azagthoth from Morbid Angel meets Mary Weiss from the Shangri-Las and they ride off into a smoggy sunset like it was meant to be.
With album art depicting someone being burned at the stake, his 2008 debut A Heart Full of Sorrow is like a tragic rock opera somehow set simultaneously in the early 1960s and the 1300s. The album contains “Gilles de Rais” a sooty exhalation of black metal detritus, but also “With You in Mind,” a Marianne Faithfull cover relatively faithful to the original — though it does sound a bit like Varg Vikernes produced it.
The tenebrous pop and Death in June-style myth making continues on 2011′s follow up Blast From the Past and the slow dance with death only gets sweeter. “Cruel Love Song” is a garage pop heartbreaker submerged in a dubby chemical bath. It’s a lot of lush boy-meets-girl-at-the-witch-trials rockers with a bit of Edwyn Collins in them, but then “Evil Rise” is just a raw strip of metal torn from the devil’s own black book.
While Daures is playing with a full band now, Yussuf Jerusalem started as a bedroom project and the recordings are self-produced — but available through Florida’s Dying. The DIY shows in the precise yet idiosyncratic production, which is half the beauty of his albums. Also, in such hermetic creativity you can almost hear the lonely silence of one guy’s room in the background.
That description might make it sound patchy, but both Yussuf Jerusalem albums are solid and complete works, so complete, in fact, that they wrap you in their creator’s imaginative world. Like a Rodarte dress made from knotted black tatters and lace, it seems loosely assembled and yet perfectly so.
Think of it as a glorious raiment for the ears to wear this fall. We think it will be the dark and hooky stuff of legend real soon.
Photo courtesy of Florida’s Dying/Credit Alxis Ratkevich