The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience were a New Zealand indie rock group operating in a low key way and releasing on the beloved Flying Nun label. Now we have I Like Rain, compiling all three of their albums along with a round-up of bonus material. All remastered and beautifully packaged in both CD and LP formats, on Fire Records.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 05 August 2015
Why does it always rain on New Zealand? Flying Nun asked the question a dozen or so times in their lifespan, trading in sombre indie pop records rather than wind-resistant umbrellas. Another band to emerge from the cracks via a reissue on Fire is the rather lovely Jean-Paul Satre Experience, a band so woefully melancholy they named themselves after the most meaninglessly unhappy existentialist. Unlike their namesake, TJPSE never wrote a song about a person stabbing their fingers repeatedly with a knife, instead focusing on grayscale emotional turmoil. This three album boxset collects every bit of drizzling rain and every half-hearted guitar line.
New Zealand indie rock was so much better at being cheeky than this British bullshit we’re tasked with pretending to be proud of. A little whistle here and a sudden upstroke of fury there, what I like about TJPSE is how they pack the humour into a dour and ludicrously unfunny foreground. The silly whistles that usher in “Grey Parade” inaugurate a song of defeated whispers and heartbroken strings, a song in which the fingers slide down the guitar frets as if they’re groaning in sympathy for Dave Mulachy. At times the band deigned to snark, which they hit their prime on with ‘Love Songs’ two smoky bar ballads “All The Way Down” and “Jabberwocky”.
It’s the drudgery I like, though, and TJPSE played for the most part on the low, evoking few proper anthems and instead trudging along meandering and disappearing guitar licks. They might have been one of those indie rock bands that made their music sound like a prediction of the fact they’d be forgotten, but that at least makes them good meteorologists. For the completist among you, this reissue comes with bonus track on bonus track of lo-fi cassette originals and single asides.
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- I Like Rain: The Story of the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience by The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience
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