If you’re going to name your album, We Are The Champions, you should be able to prove it. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall of JEFF the Brotherhood might think highly of themselves, but their new album doesn’t live up to that kind of self-proclaimed hype.
Both brothers are great musicians, and have dabbled in the business for quite some time, together and apart. However, this release comes off as a low budget, early Black Keys album: Sure, the distortion on the guitars is charming, but it does evolve into a stale one-trick pony. The best example of this is “Ripper”, which nearly reaches the five minute mark. Instead of shredding as it does throughout the whole album, the guitar whimpers, and, although the track does speed up, repetitive lyrics like “I don’t wanna/I don’t wanna” grow tiresome.
Amateur sidewalk poetry prevails, especially on “Stay Out Late”, where lines like “I want to go outside and play/and there’s nothing you can do to make me stay” only add to the overall underwhelming listen. In fact, throughout the album (and especially here), it seems as if the brothers were able to come up with a great punk riff, but couldn’t find anything worth singing about. Say what you will about punk music, but it can end up sounding redundant, and its up to the lyrics to differentiate. Another example of this is the strange “Hey Friend”, which features a gnarly intro, but falls short with the opening line “I’ve been thinking about your mom/you can tell me if it’s really wrong/It’s been going on for way too long.” On first listen, it’s comical, but it doesn’t give the song any real staying power.
Both “Wastoid Girl” and “Bummer” combine slacker anthem mentality with a slow and steady tempo, but even this album’s best moments barely qualify as passable. There’s just not enough there. It’s missing the meaning. It’s without any real weight. To play with the big boys, or to call themselves champions, these brothers will need to figure out what they want to talk about. Until then, they have nobody convinced.