REVIEW: Jons - Serfs Of Today

Kelly Kirwan

Jons is the four-piece, Victoria, BC import that’s mixed psych-revival with shoulder-shrug rock, gifting us meandering guitar riffs that have a tangy twinge and tracks that have deep cultural and religious references. Jons is like the stoned prodigy that would raise their hand in your college philosophy lecture, and shock the room with their insights (it takes skill to pull that off without being insufferable). Their latest 12-track album, Serfs of Today, was written and recorded entirely by the four bandmates—on an 8-track tape machine, rumor has it—and has been garnering comparisons to classic and modern greats like Harry Nilson, Mac DeMarco, and Kurt Vile.

Their sound is refined, but also has a sense of intimacy. A track like "Feta Morgana," for instance, feels as if your ear is practically pressed to the side of the guitar—it's almost an ode to jam-band sessions, without a single lyric throughout. The song is also (as you may have guessed) a play on Fata Morgana, mirages that appear on the edge of the horizon. It’s like a reference made during a spell of serious munchies, which also plays into Jons’ lackadaisical spirit (and apparent affinity for cheese).

"I Haven’t Heard" is certainly one of the album's standouts, with an acoustic vibe and vocals that have a vague, echoing quality. The overdubs that are gradually introduced after the song's halfway mark were improvised, and the track unfolds in both a contemplative and almost eerie manner. I suppose it makes sense, considering the subject matter: original sin, Eve’s brush with the devil and his disguise, “the inevitable misstep of free will.” For all the intensity of material, Jons still manage to roll out the track with a pondering air—their biblical imagery doesn’t come with the undertones of doom you'd usually expect.

Then there’s "Sugarfree," which has emerged as a cymbal-lined fan favorite. The vocals are easy, practically floating on a cloud of good kush (last drug reference, scout's honor). Again, the guitar interludes are impressively on point, and Jons definitely plays with classic psych tropes, which enjoyed long lapses of instrumentals for some closed-eyed head-bobbing. Jons' tracks are blends of mild distortion and go-with-the-flow harmonies, and definitely do the trick when it comes to getting the audience to tune in and tune out.

Serfs of Today is lo-fi pop that’s more than just a hazy distraction. Jons are as interested in depth as they are in magnetic chord progressions, and I highly recommend a dose of their easygoing rock.