REVIEW: Jaunt - Chat

Kelly Kirwan

Damn. Jaunt is laying the groove on thick with their latest EP release, Chat—a six-track set of lo-fi bedroom pop that teeters into early-millennial rhythm and blues. Oh yes, we even have Usher and Alicia Keys lightly sampled on two respective tracks, as currents of soul charge the otherwise gentle sway of their work. Jaunt’s group portrait is all smiles draped in white linen, the kind of photo that seems like a tongue-in-cheek ode to JC Penny portraits of awkward youth (or is this just my experience?). It’s a nice representation of the quintet that’s followed the traditional family progression—if not in numbers alone, as Jaunt started as a two-piece outfit working out of Hamilton, Ontario. But seasons change, styles develop, and now we have a Toronto-based five-piece that knows exactly which buttons to press to set us adrift in the sweet haze of their beats, while taking the occasional detour into tales of crestfallen isolation. Like all good tricks, it’s one that Jaunt pulls off covertly. Chat is breezy listening whose message isn’t as misty as the slight distortion of their beats.

Chat, as you may have guessed, is nonchalantly centered on the pitfalls that haunt modern communication. It’s a theme that’s front-and-center in Jaunt’s single, "Hello," which also focuses on an "outdated" phone and the struggle to converse between two receivers. But, whereas Adele gave us a ballad, Jaunt delivers a pumping baseline and a drop of percussion pulsing under a sweet, quasi-call-and-response falsetto. Its corresponding video depicts a curly-haired protagonist gathering the strength to call someone via landline—the camera diving into the mechanics of the phone, and then cutting to the two (estranged?) characters finding each other among lightly fluttering, pink sheer curtains. They embrace, but then movements turn unnatural—sped up, palms pressed to head—before we return to our first girl, whose receiver emits nothing but a dial tone. And there’s the rub. This flit of images was likely a narrative of her imagination, and despite all the mediums we have for reaching out, we are still prone to isolation.

Then there’s "Comfortable," a slower, slinkier melody with complex vocal arrangements reworking the 2001 hit "Fallin'" against a gentle, psych-electro backdrop. Jaunt riddles the track with urban ambiance (a passing automobile and the distorted dialogue often associated with a phone line breaking up) as a feminine chorus weaves itself throughout the background. The whole song mingles a certain lust and loneliness, feeling like a heady homage to height of slow jams. Jaunt knows just how to work their plush pitch and electronic inclinations, instilling in us a sense of longing and setting a sensual mood. Their lyrics dip into blues and their sound seems to capture the metamorphoses of R&B and neo-psych in a relatively short span of minutes. Again, damn.