When Blood Brothers’ singer Johnny Whitney and guitarist Cody Votolato joined Pretty Girls Make Graves’ guitarist-turned-drummer Jay Clark (QRO interview with Clark & Votolato) to form Jaguar Love, their 2008 debut Take Me To the Sea (QRO review) wasn’t a completely ‘formed’ product, but showed serious spark, most notably in Whitney’s signature near-transgender glam vocals. But since then, the band has taken a major turn, with Clark leaving, the now-duo departing Matador Records for Fat Possum, and, in a drum machine-inspired move, their sound shifting to dance. Hologram Jams too often gets mired in middling dance-synth-punk, but has some definite high points in there as well.
One way in which Hologram and Take are similar is that they both start off strong, and then decline. With Take, it was "Highways of Gold" and especially the following "Bats Over the Pacific Ocean"; with Hologram, it’s "I Started a Fire" and especially the following "Polaroids and Red Wine". Like "Highways", "Fire" introduces this Jaguar sound, particularly the synths, but it is "Polaroids" where it reaches its high point, thanks to a kick-ass chorus.
From there, Hologram has strong moments in forgettable dance-punk, such as the near-rap in "Cherry Soda" or the anthemistic qualities to closer "Piece of My Heart", along with some catchy and enjoyable enough pieces like "Don’t Die Alone" and "Freak Out". But the other parts of "Cherry" are run-of-the-mill, and "Piece" is a little rote, while "Everything Is Awesome" and "A Prostitute, An Angel" don’t come together quite right (and the former overuses the word ‘awesome’). And the record hits a nadir with "Sad Parade", where Jaguar Love go synth-sweet like a wanna-be Passion Pit (QRO album review).
Jaguar Love’s shift to the dance-synth-punk isn’t a massive move, though the drumming of Clark on "Bats" is particularly sorely missed. But they need to stop changing themselves, at starting finding themselves, at some point.
MP3 Stream: "Polaroids and Red Wine"