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Now Hear This: The Jacques | The Four Five Three

I'm getting caught up on the good albums that have come out lately. Like this one.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Heralding from Bristol and London — guitarist and singer/songwriter Finn O’Brien and drummer/brother Elliot O’Brien were both born in London and brought up and schooled in Bristol, before subsequently relocating back to London — The Jacques formed in early 2014 and released their debut four-track Pretty DJ EP in November that year. But their personal journey is a unique tale of triumph over adversity and, like the best kind of drama — and theirs is quite definitely a drama — one of gain through loss.

Their debut album The Four Five Three is a record of remarkable songs hewn from a range of tragically ragged, sweet and tender adolescent experiences you can’t quite believe have been crammed into such a slight number of collective years. But therein lies the rub: The Jacques may have unremarkable musical origins emanating out of the fields and towns of rural England, with all the boredoms and eccentricities associated with the social isolation of such communities. Along with the O’Briens, The Jacques include Harry Thomas (keyboards) and James Lay (bass), although it hasn’t always been this way. Past members include Jake and Oliver Edwards, Clint Trembath and Gabriel Ciechan, but the death of long-term bass player Will J Hicks in March 2019 hit them hard.

Finn met Will whilst studying art at Goldsmiths College in 2016. Initially, they didn’t hit it off, but a blossoming close friendship ensued and, together with the addition of Harry on keyboards, a new fuller, less-guitar centric sound emerged. James had already started rehearsing with the four-piece when tragedy struck. “It was hard,” says Finn now. “We played so many songs with Will that meant such a lot. But we decided to carry on.”

James subsequently joined on a permanent basis and The Jacques resumed professional duties as best they could, releasing a series of singles throughout 2019 including the fuzzy post-punk of Kiss The Pharaoh, which features on The Four Five Three. The song hums and clatters like early Horrors, yet delivers piercing offhand lyricism which Finn describes as having an “anarchistic and creepy nursery-rhyme thing going on.”

The album also features the recently released single Swift Martin, a bleak and unnerving track of pulsating synths and distorted guitar lines, along with songs like Cradle My Heart — about each of us having our own versions of God — and Holy Mamacita, a love song with a twist, about letting someone down. However it’s perhaps Hendrik and Taste The Mexican Sun that showcase The Jacques at their most sentimental and their most playful. Hendrik is the oldest track on the album and was renamed to celebrate one of Finn’s closest friends who had always loved the song before he passed away; Taste The Mexican Sun takes its title from a seemingly-meaningless caption Finn and Will noticed on a plastic cup whilst hanging out at a music festival.

Remarkable enough in themselves, they segue effortlessly into the album’s closer, God’s Lick, a song that evokes bittersweet memories of endless jamming sessions when Will was in the band. It’s a beautifully poignant way to finish this emotional rollercoaster of a record.”