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October 27, 1998

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I have to admit that when I first heard this I hated it. But a look at the impressive resumes of the three band members (ex-Jawbreaker, Texas Is The Reason, and Handsome) forced me to give it another chance. After a few more listens, I was quickly warming up to it. Then one day, out of the blue, it hit me with like a thunderbolt and Orange Rhyming Dictionary hasn't left my CD player since. It’s hard to describe emo/punk as ‘beautiful’ but the songs on this album are as close as you get.

This is what happens when musicians trade in sheer power for intelligent lyrics and a pop sensibility. Orange Rhyming Dictionary is a collection of anthemic rockers, New Wave influenced pop, and deep, brooding slower pieces. But under layer upon layer of sweet hooks and some power chords is a dark, intensely personal journey into pain, disappointment and love.

Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Blake Schwarzenbach has matured into one of the most engaging songwriting talents around today. The album’s heady lyrics and Blake’s knack for loose reference (“Noise police white hearse TV air wave methadone/Diet contact safe sex antibiotics/For your safety we’ve taken sharp objects it’s their object to keep you from waking”) make the material irresistible. If you don’t believe me then just take a listen to “Sweet Avenue”, the album’s final and most powerful song. With lyrics like “Now all these tastes improve/Through the view that comes with you/Like they handed me my life/For the first time it felt worth it/Like I deserved it”, the song is an ironic centerpiece delivered by a threesome who made names for themselves playing speedy, punk rock. It seems fitting that Jets To Brazil might actually live up to the potential of their earlier bands. Definitely one of the best album’s I’ve heard all year.


Alex Machurov