Like the first few cascading drops of rain that come before the roar of a storm, the synthy opening bars of “In the Late Dark” awaken a treasure chest of feelings in anyone who happens to be within earshot of their enormous melody. The rhythm kicks into gear and we start off on an ebb and flow of textures that sets the tone for everything soon to follow in Paul Jacks’ In Other Words, the brand new album from the Alaskan sonic sorcerer, and as we arrive in the contrasting black and white tones of “Kintsu,” the very notion of turning back from this epic journey we’ve just began is absent from our minds, perhaps never to return.

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The title track in In Other Words is home to the first truly danceable groove that we encounter in the tracklist, but it isn’t the last. The swaggering rhythm of this song gets a shot of adrenaline in “Too Emotional,” one of my favorite compositions on the album, and it’s at this juncture that Paul Jacks really lets his hair down on the instrumental end of the spectrum. Both “Too Emotional” and “Draw Upon” are kaleidoscopically colorful, and though the vocal is as virtuosic as any of the synth melodies are, it’s not the main source of these songs’ magnificent magnetism. “Do What You Will” shifts gears into a more melancholic direction that previous tracks were taking, but the vibrant beats don’t die down – on the contrary, they get all the stronger in this tune.

“Anything At All” bludgeons us with an almost acrylic percussive pulsating that, while being the total opposite of what Jacks’ constructs in “Still Your Passenger,” creates just as much of an emotive harmony with the other instrumental parts in the song. The first time that I sat down with In Other Words, the one track that struck me as overly-experimental was “On the Tightrope,” but upon closer inspections, I’ve actually come to appreciate its obscurities. Jacks intentionally pressurizes the pop hook in this song to make its climactic chorus all the more inspired, and were it not as tension-building as it is, I don’t know that it would have been as memorable a melodic composition as it is in the state we find it in here.

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In one final burst of electricity, Paul Jacks’ In Other Words comes to a conclusion on the back of “You’re Gonna Learn to Love Someday,” which in more ways than one puts the perfect cherry on top of this deliciously inviting synthesized sundae. I was moderately familiar with the work of Mr. Jacks before receiving a pre-release copy of this latest studio album for review, but I must say that I plan on exploring his catalogue a little more extensively after hearing what he’s capable of doing in this record. He’s got an organic talent that comes on overwhelmingly strong in pretty much every track here, and it’s something that I would love to hear more of in another release. I’ll be keeping an eye on his progress in the next few years, and once you’ve listened to In Other Words this August, I think you’ll want to as well.

Michael Rand

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