What does Jesca Hoop sound like?
Indie folk delivered with a sprinkle of oddities and heart.
The review of Jesca Hoop – ‘Order of Romance’
Love and romance are complicated and for Jesca Hoop it’s a minefield of material to carefully teeter around. Not all love is good and saintly and Jesca explores this in her new album ‘Order of Romance’. As if to show how complex the ideas are, her songwriting style, often idiosyncratic, is in full quirk. This is an album that takes a few listens to sink in before you gel with its charm.
Jesca Hoop teams up with John Parish again to bring a rustic folk feel. The drums are like a rolling cavalcade of stumbling rumbles rather than kick drum/tom drum variants. With brass back up, you’d be forgiven at times at thinking Jesca is veering towards something more Hawaiian. What veers the music right back to English folk again is Hoop’s often quickfire layered vocals and her constantly noodling guitars. She never takes out the guitar and truly smashes a chord, instead, it’s a blanket of tiny plucks and shivers. This makes tracks like “Sudden Light” and “Hatred Has A Mother” feel fluid. They revolve around the energy that all the instrumentation brings collectively. Add in plenty of catchy but quirky vocal or melodic motifs and hooks and you have a collection of songs that you can really lean into.
Serious issues are tackled here such as the sinister yet childlike “I Was Just 14” which discusses losing virginity. A rising curious chord laden “One Way Mirror” provides a jazzy blues ballad that sounds like Jesca doing sad Disney themes folk style. The music is beautifully produced, with pristine clarity. There are moments where the instrumentation moves towards a minimalist approach. “Silent Extinction” spends its first half just with a tabla tap, Jesca’s voice and minimal bass. It is utterly captivating as the lyrics unveil the slice-of-life ways you erase a previous lover from your life. “7lbs of Pressure” moves between minimal brass and bass arrangements to high-pitched shrieks like a folk cabaret.
Those looking for more of Jesca Hoop’s folk fair will also be covered. “Sioux Falls” is a quintessential Hoop folk. Odd chorus structures, switched-up vocal tempos and a trailblazing stomp to the track – it is what we know and love. “Like I Am Time”, “Firestorm” and “Lyrebird” are all beautiful ballads. “Lyrebird” is beautifully simple and warm in a way we don’t often hear and it makes a refreshing closer to what is an album that manages to make the minimal sound complex.
‘Order of Romance’ is a tricky album as, just like love itself, it doesn’t reveal itself right away. It took me several listens to get into the groove with it and now it feels like a staple. Jesca Hoop’s ability to juggle unusual song structures that constantly evolve whilst staying intimate and fluid is powerful. It’s also no more obviously present than here. This isn’t the most immediately accessible release she has done to date, but it is one of the most satisfying when it clicks.
Recommended track: Silent Extinction
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