In their ten-plus years as an active Milwaukeean indie rock act, Jaill have undergone plenty of changes. But through several lineup revisions and label switches, frontman Vincent Kircher has remained at the center of it all, producing full-bodied garage pop with help from a revolving cast of friends. Now, with Wherever It Be, a ten-track collection exclusively for Infinity Cat’s cassette series, Kircher is putting out what essentially boils down to a solo release, and it feels like the best thing he’s done in years.
Though it was mixed and mastered by current Jaill drummer Josh Evert, Wherever It Be was written, performed, and recorded entirely on Kircher’s own, in his Milwaukee home. It could be classified as bedroom pop, and it certainly does have an intimate, homegrown quality, but it eschews the genre’s generally cloistered feel. Instead, there’s a vitality infused into even the most pared-down, keyboard-centric verses on this album. And in contrast to Jaill’s last full-length, in which Kircher’s lyrics tended towards pretty caustic self-deprecation, the content here is often droll and feels somewhat off-the-cuff.
The album’s opening track and namesake sets the tone wonderfully with a story about a hermit crab who is “Sold in a cup to a kid with one friend.” “It’s okay,” says Kircher, “You’ll be loved / You will be taken care of.” Quirky details abound in Kircher’s lyrics, as in “Helen You Sure Do Smell Bad For A Girl,” where Kircher regrets that he wants to “say some things that sound so sweet / But all I think is how I need to eat.” His unbridled honesty can hit a painful nerve at times, such as when he asks “Are you ok, darling / Feels like you’re bored” (“Bored”), but it goes down easy when buoyed by a sparkly xylophone and hoppy keyboard.
Many of the songs take subtle psychedelic turns, like in “Spills,” which juxtaposes stomping percussion with high-pitched, childlike harmonies and video game-y flourishes. Electronic elements (as found in “Augmented 5th” for example) are well implemented, while softer touches, like a gauzy harp riff, are interestingly paired with fuzzy garage tunes (“Lala is All Icicles”). And pretty much all of the songs are catchy as hell—Kircher’s expertly-written and addictive pop fuses well with the cozy yet off-kilter aesthetic. There’s an easy, natural air to the album as a whole.
Maybe it was just the one-off nature of this limited tape release, but Wherever It Be has a no-pressure, no-frills sound that seems especially refreshing in light of Jaill’s relatively long history. Kircher's talents happily shine in a way that's miles from his previous effort. Here's to hoping there's more solo experimentation in store for him, and for us.