Not long after Jack Rabbit Slams formed in 2016 they released a tantalising EP, Cheap ‘N’ Nasty, which left fans longing for more. Well, it’s been a quite a wait since then, but it was worth it – the release of Crackerjack, their debut album, confirms that this is band to take seriously. Based in mid-Scotland, founding members Rob McCombie (guitar, vocals) and Sean Love (drums) have, together with recent recruit Francesco Maria Pasi on bass, developed a reputation on the tour circuit for their loud, energetic rock.
Title track ‘Crackerjack’ opens the album and hits the ground running with furious riffs, overseen by McCombie’s growling vocals. Just as it hits its stride, the tempo suddenly drops, adding a new layer of complexity before the energy builds again to bookend the piece. A perfect choice of opener, drawing you in with its melodic twists and turns, until you find yourself longing to discover what else lies ahead.
‘Everybody Wants to Know My Game’ maintains the momentum, underpinned by Sean Love’s energetic drumming. The track mirrors ‘Crackerjack’ with a quieter mid-section, but this time you know what to expect – and you barely have time to catch your breath before the pace builds to close the track. ‘Pucker Up’ is even more frenetic, and incorporates some outstanding guitar work by McCombie.
‘B.L.O.W.’ builds steadily throughout the intro before delivering a track that demands to be seen live. ‘The Art of Losing’ marks a distinct stylistic shift with a more nuanced and, at times, progressive sound, which helps to showcase the band’s range.
The hard rock returns with ‘Bangarang’, a highlight of the album, and an absolute headbanger of a track that Motörhead would be justly proud of. ‘Millionaire’ epitomizes sleaze rock, encompassed in its opening line “I’d like to be your sleaziest sleaze”. A deliciously grubby track with more growling vocals and excellent riffs.
The sheer energy of the band’s music is maintained throughout ‘Come and Go’ and ‘Apparition’, before the album draws to a conclusion with ‘Kaleidoscopic Carousel Experience’, the proggiest track of the album and one that leaves you in no doubt that this band are capable of much more than just hard rock.
Crackerjack represents a confident and highly polished debut album from a band who are making energetic, exciting and enjoyable rock music. Although their foundation lies in loud, heavy rock, they are not afraid to experiment and incorporate ideas from other genres, giving rise to a uniquely engaging and interesting sound. Highly recommended.
Crackerjack is released on 16 April 2020 via Forge AMP.