Thomas White is a bit of a legend around these parts. Not only is he the co-founder of psych-pop band Electric Soft Parade and the guitarist in Brakes, but the scarily prolific and consistent musician is the creative honcho behind The Fiction Aisle, the multi-band project lead by White. Described by White as “A cross between a jazz band of the 1930s and a psych-rock group of the 1970s”, he’s back with his third album in just two years and it’s a hugely enjoyable listen with yet more melancholic ambience.
Jupiter, Florida is a very difficult album to pigeonhole. Its soaring, sweeping orchestrals that wouldn’t be out of place on a film soundtrack are incorporated with a collection of fantastic 90s work. For example, opening song ‘Gone Today’ has the melodic charm of an early Morrissey album, but the otherworldliness of Spiritualized. It becomes quite clear early on that White has an immense amount of talent for ambient melody. In fact, it instantly feels like an album that overcomes your entire body with inflected assonance. Additionally, and unsurprisingly, this means there are times when Jupiter, Florida loses you occasionally.
However, there’s a simplicity to Jupiter, Florida that is splendid, which hooks you back in. It comes across as so simple, purely because of how intelligent White is as an artist. With his quietly plucked guitar chords and his distinctive vocals, it’s an almost transparent listen. For an album released in the middle of winter, it’s a summery, warming listen at times. ‘Ten Years’, for example, recalls the soothing, reassuring tones of Father John Misty with the brass section of Pink Floyd’s Animals. Likewise, ‘The End of The Affair’ is where the jazz inflections come to fruition. The Fiction Aisle has always been a project that is exceptional in its audacity and its production.
The best song on the record is without a doubt ‘Black River’. The sheer scope of the song is massive, but it’s the execution that is most impressive. With its sentimental pop escalation, dynamic guitar lines and sweeping synthesisers it’s a colossal song that continues to propel forward until its surging finale. If Tame Impala released this you wouldn’t be surprised, it’s certainly a song that is deserving of a massive festival crowd.
Additionally, Thomas White’s voice is an absolute delight, worthy of a listen at any point in your day. Like the huskiness of Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz, mixed with Kevin Parker’s sentimentality, it’s arguably the strongest part of the project and the album. This is especially clear on ‘Sweetness & Light’ which is admirable in its idealistic and aestival aura. Furthermore, ‘Memory’ sees White exploring the dance-pop genre with an introduction that sounds like The xx exploding into a bombastic 80s pop song akin to Tears for Fears or Visage.
Ultimately, this is an album that is a spectacular achievement, showcasing White’s awesome production expertise, impassioned magnitude and rhythmic ambidexterity. Jupiter, Florida is a glimmering pop album that feels like high-art. It’s a pensive and studious record that is comparable to some of the greatest artists in music but, crucially, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.