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Albums Of The Week: The Jack Rubies | Clocks Are Out Of Time

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Clocks Are Out Of Time is the first new album from reunited English C86/post-punk veterans The Jack Rubies in over 30 years. They return with their original lineup and bewitchingly angular sound fully intact, as heard on recent singles Poltergeist and Hark. Those tracks are joined by 10 more noir-tinged, melodically gripping and darkly humorous tunes, easily the equals of anything the band crafted in their ’80s heyday and startlingly contemporary in sound and outlook.

The title Clocks Are Out Of Time bespeaks urgency, and its songs pair titles like Heaven Shook Me, Corrupted and Shark Attack with a thrilling push-pull between taut rhythmic passages and lush, wide-open guitarscapes that deliver that tension-and-release dynamic to great effect. But the record’s name also suggests a kind of glitch in the universal timeline, and it’s easy to hear why.

Anyone familiar with the band’s original run (including their two now-highly sought-after albums), or their context among contemporaries like The The, Nick Cave and The Fall, could be forgiven for thinking that Clocks is a lost album of that era. At the same time, followers of newer postpunk revival groups like Interpol, The National and Dry Cleaning might well mistake it for the debut of a band that could only come into being in the here and now of the 21st Century. Both points of view would be correct: It seems like the times have finally caught up with what The Jack Rubies always had in mind.

The band’s original lineup of Ian Wright (lead vocals and guitar), SD Ineson (backing vocals and guitar), Steve Brockway (bass), Lawrence Giltnane (percussion) and Peter Maxted (drums, and production) have picked up right where they left off, and it sounds miraculously contemporary. Clocks Are Out Of Time fits the tenor of these times to a T, sonically and thematically.

Jagged riffs and propulsive rhythms worthy of Gang Of Four, Shriekback or early PiL drive darkly danceable grooves on Heaven Shook Me and Hark, while Angeline Soul and Corrupted squarely hit the vintage college rock sweet spot. Chandelier evokes Berlin-era David Bowie with a distinct Rubies twist, while Read My Mind and Poltergeist suggest that the band might have evolved into a leading light of the dream-pop/shoegaze movement had they not gone into hibernation at the outset of the ’90s.

Elsewhere, a stark rootsiness informs Hidey Hole and the funny Terrible Crime, while Shark Attack lives up to its title with genuine bite. And you simply couldn’t ask for a more satisfying closer than the gorgeous, soaring I’ll Give You More, which the band call “a slice of Gallic infused chamber pop shot with dabs of Northern Soul harmonica, psychedelic backwards guitar solos, rhapsodic piano trills and all-round anthemic performances from all.” It’s intended as a bookend to the desperate opener Hark, and succeeds brilliantly.

Across Clocks, Wright’s insistent baritone spins tales of separation, isolation and the post-lockdown ennui that contributed to the tone of the collection (balanced with the wicked humor of yore). The overarching approach is thoroughly modern: Seductively dark but too wry to be goth, brightly melodic but too sly to be pop. And for all its well-earned cynicism, the album is imbued with what Wright calls “a slightly bruised and battered positivity.”

Perhaps that’s born of the simple joy of The Jack Rubies rediscovering an alchemy that might have been lost for the ages. Fortunately, on Clocks Are Out Of Time, it’s been rekindled, sounding, if anything, more potent than ever. And that makes for a record that’s not only a sort of miracle, but maybe a masterpiece as well.”