If you are looking for some good old indie rock that is odd, quirky and catchy then LA’s Media Jeweler’s third LP, The Sublime Sculpture Of Being Alive, is an album you should be checking out. The album arrives three years after the band’s second album, 1-800-SUCCEED, and stretches all limits on what was already considered an unconventional sound that typically was not vocal focused. This is the exciting part of the new album because even though many parts here still feel “experimental,” the reality is that Media Jeweler are in a pedal to the floor drivers seat with an unlimited amount of gas in the tank that now includes a spotlight on frontman Sam Farzin’s croon.
If this is your first experience with Media Jeweler, you will not immediately appreciate their growth but listening to their previous records is not a requirement to enjoy this one. Farzin’s vocals have a very Nick Cave meets National’s Matt Berninger sound, as his baritone register leads you down the path of each track. It is almost like he is Willy Wonka giving you a tour of the factory because you are never quite sure where he is taking you or if you can trust him but it is incredibly exciting. The music is very angular as Farzin’s voice is rhythmic.
Opener “Brushstrokes” is a great example of their style as the band paints a large musical canvas that circulates noises with a multitude of beeps, blips, drums and riffs that kick out sideways while the vocals are the constant. The entire record beats to this unique drum as it also includes several harmonized chants throughout like “living is like a pyramid scheme, living feels like telemarketing” near the conclusion of “3D Printer.” During “Tightrope,” Frazin repeats over and over, “I think I found it this time” during that turns out to be completely addicting. You also have the 4-minute “Stuck” which is an album highlight that has a flowing tick tock beat that features female backing vocals, marching rapid lyrics from Frazin and even some spoken word pieces that all together form a modern day Talking Heads vibe!
The Sublime Sculpture Of Being Alive is a game changer for Media Jeweler. From the epic over 7-minute ballad closer “Smile” that has a jazzy ending and Frazin repeating “Smile, you’re on camera” to the rapidly short, just over a minute, “Heaven” that features an amped up screeching sax and a pleather craze fest of other instruments, Media Jeweler will continue to surprise you. The vocals are now a standout ingredient as they only enhance choosing to go down the Media Jeweler rabbit hole and they make The Sublime Sculpture Of Being Alive increasingly better with every listen!
Key Tracks: “Brushstrokes” / “Stuck” / “Smile”
Artists With Similar Fire: Lithics / Protomartyr / Qlowski
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony