Beautiful in Danger
01. Dance Like No-One’s Watching
02.Your Favourite Song
03. Cigarettes And Conversations
04.Circles And Squars
06. Rose Coloured Glasses
08. Moonlight Highlights
09. The Executioner
10. The Art Of Illusion
11. Beautiful In Danger
Successfully composing layered epics of greater than ten minutes in length and thematically intricate concept albums is no doubt a feat of great skill and application, worthy of the praise and attention we laud upon the musicians who bless us with such challenging listening experiences. However, what is less obvious, and less often recognised, is just how difficult it is to write songs that are more compact in structure, yet are of such depth that they continue to reveal new secrets and subtleties with each repeated listen. Hailing from the current Australian school of alternative and progressive rock, JERICCO have, with their debut album, Beautiful In Danger, managed to compile a collection of songs that do exactly that.
Since their inception in 2009, JERICCO have built a solid reputation on the back of a sound clearly influenced by the likes of Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus, and have become known for their strong Middle Eastern influence courtesy of songwriter and bassist, Roy Amar, who is originally from Israel, and keyboardist, Fetah Sabawi, formerly of Australian alt/nu metal heavyweights, Superheist, who is of Palestinian descent. However, with Beautiful In Danger, JERICCO have almost entirely reinvented themselves, trading in the contrived drama and derivative sound of their two preceding EPs for an album of dance-rock anthems based around immediately engaging hooks, and that not only benefit from an increased pace and newfound urgency, but are also infectiously danceable and genuinely emotive to boot.
The reason behind this shift in song writing focus, and why Beautiful In Danger is such an unpretentious album, is perhaps explained by the lyrics to the album’s first track, ‘Dance Like No One’s Watching’, which is also the album’s second single. Introduced by a bouncy electro-groove and a Middle Eastern flavoured vocal motif, lines such as, “Like no-one else will know”, and, “Like every lie you’ve told will be forgiven”, could certainly represent the band’s refusal to conform with any perceived stylistic expectations, and its decision to adopt a more organic and personally satisfying approach to song writing, be damned with the consequences.
Produced and mastered by Australian progressive and alternative rock guru, Forrester Savell, one of the keys to the success of Beautiful In Danger is that whereas the temptation would have been to employ the expansive sound now typical of releases from Australian bands of this ilk, the guitars and drums on this album have been recorded and finished with a rawer and more traditional rock edge, which compliments perfectly the band’s comparatively streamlined song writing ethic, and provides the album with a surprisingly intimate feel.
Furthermore, while easy on a first listen, it would be wrong to dismiss Beautiful In Danger as being merely an album of straightforward electro-rock songs, for while it certainly utilises its fun and catchy hooks as a means of capturing the listeners immediate interest, it is the little details ornamenting each song which act as a gateway to the album’s deceptive substance. These ornaments take a number of forms, including fleeting references to Cog, The Strokes and even Coldplay which never linger long enough to be overbear the core identity of the song, as well as a surprisingly varied instrumentation, which is primarily the product of Sabawi’s keyboard, but also includes piano, cello, and an oud, which is a Middle Eastern lute played by Amar on the closing title track.
In and of itself, the discovery of this musical depth is a rewarding highlight, but more importantly, it serves to engage the listener emotionally, and to expose the surprising vulnerability of this music. While not immediately obvious, this vulnerability is particularly evident in the vocals of Brent McCormick who, with his punkish tone and broad Australian accent, was never really suited to the emulation of Maynard James Keenen or Ian Kenny, but whose technical flaws merely add to the expressiveness of his notably passionate delivery, and whose performance on the acoustic ‘Moonlight Highlight’ is one of the album’s more memorable moments.
Despite its percussive rock grooves, Beautiful In Danger flows fluidly from beginning to end, and while it might not achieve the lofty heights of some of their brethren, it clearly demonstrates JERICCO to be a band now comfortable with who they are and what they stand for, which is a development which can only bode well for their future and that of the Australian progressive rock movement.
JERICCO – Beautiful in Danger