When was the last time you thought about ska subgenres? Yeah, me neither.
As it turns out, there is actually a thriving scene right in front of us, and BOTHERED / UNBOTHERED, the newest release from Jer, is a great place to start.
This isn’t just a ska album, though, it’s the culmination of decades of output from alternative scenes. From dramatised brass breaks evocative of Panic!’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, all the way to the 00’s rap spoken skit ending of ‘You Got Yr ***** Card Revoked’, BOTHERED / UNBOTHERED has repurposed the experimentation of scenes past. It is quite an achievement to create an album based in a notoriously cheesy genre, adding in tongue-in-cheek lines such as ‘Clout Chaser!’’s “you don’t give a frick”, and have it not be painfully cringe.
It’s in the combination of influences that this album shines. This is exemplified in the album standout ‘Decolonize Yr Mind’ which combines the pre-chorus essence of a late Beatles track with a rap break I could only note as “so fucking cool” and “so, so right”, followed by a guitar solo punctuated with politically charged lyrics. It combines No Doubt’s ‘Tragic Kingdom’ with Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’ and ELO’s ‘Out of the Blue’ in a really satisfying way, touching on so many different corners of music.
BOTHERED / UNBOTHERED brings clear influence from a variety of beloved artists, combining them to create something deliciously nostalgic that still pushes musical boundaries. It is not just compelling tonally, but rhythmically and lyrically too.
This album deserves attention, even if just to prove the potential of blending genre boundaries. The standout tracks ‘Decolonize Yr Mind’, ‘UNBOTHERED’, and ‘You Got Yr ***** Card Revoked’, prove that Jer is on the cusp of something truly great. It’s a relief to see someone who clearly loves music reassuringly make sense of its tumultuous history.