The intriguing, undersung indie pop of Jeremy Jay's first few records feels wholly of another time and place. Sauntering somewhere between Del Shannon, the Field Mice, and the Left Banke, he ties together the wistful, romantic pop sounds of yesteryear for an alluring end result. In 2009, Jay ventured abroad from his hometown of Los Angeles to London and recorded Splash, his third LP and arguably his most satisfying artistic statement to date.
It starts off on a Pulp-like note with "As You Look Over the City," an unusually glam cut guided along by Jay's candid lyrics and brilliant bits of lead guitar from Jet Marshall, whose playing sets the largely Britpop tone of the whole record. It's a new and effective context for Jay's lyrics, giving the music the exciting edge that his raw, warbling voice has always had. Compared to last year's new-wave-influenced Slow Dance, the use of synths is more judicious and tasteful, subtly rendering "Just Dial My Number" and "Hologram Feather" more mysterious and seductive.
Jay's not a poet—his style of stringing together images can often feel clumsy and tedious—but he's more keen than ever before on eliminating abstraction and capturing personal moments with colorful details, and that works in his favor here: "This Is Our Time" finds him riding his BMX, guitar strapped to his back, headphones on, and feeling thoroughly exhilarated. Though lovelorn as ever, Splash is more fun than its predecessors, and these songs are simply his best yet.