A French duo called Jamaica produced by part of Justice boasting growing buzz in the U.S. and success overseas sounds like a combo that will equal chaos or genius (or perhaps a bit of both.) Yet, for their debut album, No Problem, Jamaica lands some where in the middle. The album is packed with 80s-pop-rock-inspired tracks that are a catchy good time, but lack the originality and swagger to be more than a fun summer romp.
While the duo of singer-guitarist, Antoine Hilaire, and singer-bassist, Florent Lyonnet, adapt the power-pop stylings of the 80s into a something more modern, the transformation is very one dimensional. The hooks are energetic, but not super catchy. The choruses are lively, but not sing-along-memorable. The stand-out tracks, “Short and Entertaining” and “Jericho,” are a mix of skillful production and the duo embracing the cheesiness and use it to add depth to their sound. The other tracks sound a bit bland and familiar.
While not much stands out as new or amazing, the album as a whole is still an enjoyable listen. It’s something you’d throw on as back ground music at a summer bbq, due to it’s pleasantly poppy-airy nature. However, I don’t see you being hounded to pause while flipping burg’s to make anyone copies or crank it up to over conversation (or Shazam-ing it for info, for that matter).
The bonus on No Problem is five additional remixes or new editions of earlier tracks. The “Jericho (Tepr Remix)” is a electro-heavy dance mix of the original and is seven minutes of zippy lounge music. Single, “I Think I Like U 2,” gets a Breakbot remix that doesn’t stray far enough away from the original to really sound like a true remix. (And is probably the better version anyway.)
Listening to No Problem, the problem becomes very apparent. The songs are sonically very similar and run together in a way that makes many tracks feel like filler. The stand-outs are few and far between. While certainly fun and easy to listen to, the album is nearly frustrating because you can hear that they are on the edge of something awesome. With a little more time and punch, I’d expect Jamaica will be a go-to destination for sunny, dance-y jams. Just maybe not this summer…
Words: Lori Bartlett
Album: No Problem
Label: Cooperative U.S.A./Downtown Music
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Click here to check out the photos of our coverage of Jamaica at the Echoplex!