You see, ladies and gentlemen, life is a beautiful thing – and I’m sure many of you will share my sentiments. Part of why it’s beautiful is because of the very nature of uncertainty in life. You never know what the hypothetical guy in the sky (or not) is gonna bestow upon us next, you feel me? Just to show you how beautiful life can be, I’ve compiled a list of beauties and masterpieces of our time:
- White Chicks
- Mean Girls 2
- Spider-Man 3
- Jumero’s debut album, Stepping Stones
One of those is unlike the others (no bonus points for guessing which). Terrible attempt at breaking the ice aside, it’s refreshing to see the boys of Jumero finally releasing their debut album, 3 years since their inception. And what’s better is that we got to listen to it live at their album launch party last week at Laundry Bar, The Curve, as part of the GUINNESS® Amplify: Curate series.
At the launch party, Crinkle Cut, an electro-acoustic quartet, and Natallie Ng, a singer-songwriter, opened the stage for the much anticipated trio. Safe to say, the opening acts managed to get the crowd pumped up and ready for Jumero. And when the boys took to the stage, beginning with Blind Love, a track from Stepping Stones, the crowd went wild, and at that moment, we all knew that the long wait for Jumero’s debut album was well worth it.
After having the CD looping on repeat for the past week or so, I’ll safely sum up the album in one word: Magical. The album features seven songs in total, including Stand Up and Fantasy Killer, which may ring a few bells for the hardcore fans of Jumero. So without further ado, or if you aren’t already long gone from this article, let’s take a look at each track individually, shall we?
1. Stand Up
More often than not, the opening track of the album dictates the overall tone and musical direction of the album. So, if the boys were going for a tropical-esque vibe then they’ve definitely made the right choice. Stand Up starts with a beautiful melody on the guitar, followed by an equally soothing line of percussion from the bongos. Both of these elements make you feel like you’re in cloud nine, like you’re free from the worries of the stress and troubles of life. If someone told me to stare out the window of a moving car and pretend to be in a music video, then you can bet that Stand Up will be my song of choice. In terms of vocals, the Lim brothers’ vocals’ can be akin to that of toppings on a pizza, salt on one’s French fries, or some other odd comparison that you can think of. Jared’s husky voice and Michael’s harmonics provide the finesse that synergizes with the track well.
2. Fantasy Killer
Ah yes, Fantasy Killer. You may or may not remember (but if you did, then hooray!) but we actually reviewed this track some time ago. And my sentiments are still the same. Shameless confession time; Fantasy Killer was the first Jumero song that I’ve ever listened to, despite them being already relatively famous before that. The groovy baselines and rhythmic percussions basically set the tone for what Jumero is to me: An Indie band with a very chillax vibe to them. If you’re like me and only started listening to Jumero with Fantasy Killer, then there’s no doubt that it’s THE standout song for you.
3. Blind Love
The thing I like about this song is the guise it gives from the start: The guise that this beautiful track is like the former two, with a percussion-riddled intro accompanied by a rhythmic guitar. That’s exactly how I felt for the first 5 seconds of the track, only to be greeted by a slow-paced ballad (as if the title didn’t already give it away) with Jared’s soothing voice that definitely sets the tone for a relaxing evening. Midway through the track, the electric guitar provides apt variation to the song with a few fancy harmonics that add to the overall badass-ness of Blind Love. Brandon Sta Maria also lends his guitar-playing prowess to Jumero in this track. Y’know, to up the ante of Blind Love. Couple this track with a cup of coffee, a good book, and a rainy day, and you’ve your day set.
4. Full In Or Nothing
The first impression I had of Full In Or Nothing came from the title itself. I’ll admit that I paid way too much emphasis on the lyrics of the song the first time I heard it, hoping to come across a sexual innuendo of some sort. But, apparently it was just me. So I only started to appreciate the slow-paced nature of the song on my second listen, where I paid more emphasis on the drums and percussion. Ryan’s mastery of the drums, the snare in particular, really gives this track an upbeat rhythm that you can’t help shaking your leg to. Another commendable aspect of the track is Michael’s backing vocals, which, much like the drums and percussion, is definitely brighter than the former tracks in this album.
Though Fantasy Killer was the track that defined Jumero for me, my favourite track in Stepping Stones is Free, hands down. The first 10 seconds of the track had me on a roller coaster of emotions. From “mhmm pretty groovy” to “GODDAMN this is good!” It’s kinda hard to describe, but Free has that Gavin DeGraw vibe going. Okay, it’s probably the more aggressive drumming on the track, but that’s not taking away from Jared’s gritty vocals and the insane guitar solo towards the end of the track. Brandon Sta Maria once again lends his talents in the form of the electric guitar for this song, which if you haven’t already guessed, equates to an A+ in my book. Overall a very solid track, nailing every musical aspect possible. Oh, and did I mention that it’s my absolute favourite track from the album?
6. Come Along With Me
Okay, I’m gonna be honest. I’m a bit disappointed, but not in the sense that you’d expect. I was disappointed because I thought Free would’ve set the tone and mood for the last 2 tracks, but alas, we don’t always get what we want now do we? Now now, before you decide to organize a manhunt and burn me at the stake, hear me out. Come Along With Me is still very good in its own regard. Out of all the tracks, this one takes the cake for catchiest intro. It sets a very playful and bubbly mood for the rest of the song that (if you haven’t already guessed by now) goes hand in hand with you chilling and zoning out. The track starts out with a melodic lead on the acoustic guitar that is soon accompanied by Jared’s vocals. The end product, is basically sub 4 minutes of musical goodness. The song’s pretty medium-paced, somewhere between the lines of Free and Full In Or Nothing, which isn’t a bad thing, but a welcoming change of pace instead.
Despite following a very common song structure (chord progression for 4 bars, followed by the melody, bla bla bla), Life is definitely one of the more laidback tracks in the entirety of Stepping Stones. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but something just makes this track the perfect one to close the album out with. Probably because I’m typing this out at 2 in the morning. But maybe it’s the combination of the tempo of the song, the relatively short length, and the very minimalistic approach to the track. Yes. That’s it. The instrumentals on Life don’t really have a lot of variance to them, with Jared’s voice doing quite a bit of the work on the closing track. But that doesn’t mean the song is bad now, because y’know, less is more, you feel me?
If you’ve been reading my past few articles, I’m sure you know by now that I live and die by EDM. But that doesn’t mean I don’t broaden my horizons once in a while, and it’s instances like Jumero’s Stepping Stones that remind me why I rightfully do so in the first place. The album definitely hits home when it comes to musical pacing, style and variance, while managing to keep that signature acoustic/clean guitar sound, and did I also mention somewhere that Jared’s voice is a little heavenly? Just a little. In short, Stepping Stones is a clear reminder of what a time it is to be alive. As I said, life is beautiful.