Jane Frank - The Big Squeeze - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jane Frank - The Big Squeeze

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2018-12-14

I think I'm crushing on Jane Frank. She's at the absolute maximum level of preciousness without going over the line. This short, simple set of songs is both sweetly earnest and knowingly jaded, in just the right proportions. The Big Squeeze is as cool and refreshing as a summer breeze, and as transient, with most of the songs clocking in at only 2-3 minutes. The set feels very small, not in a bad way, but more in that it's intimate and personal, and doesn't try to do too much. It has a clear goal, and it achieves it.

Frank's vocals are utterly charming, sounding fragile and innocent and occasionally the tiniest bit off-key, giving them an extremely human quality.  The first track, 'Washington', is a paean to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. As someone who briefly lived there, I can appreciate the affection for the place, as it is gorgeous up there. Interestingly, the second song, 'I Can't Stop Thinkin' 'Bout You' is the song that seems to stick with me the most when I'm not actively listening to the set. It is, of course, a song about love lost.

I was a bit curious about 'Goldeneye', wondering how a reference to an old James Bond film would fit into the style of the set. But no no, the fun little rocker isn't about the movie, it's about the 1990s video game, and fond remembrances of playing it as a teenager (and getting your ass kicked). Funnily, the very next track 'You're a Star' sounds like a continuation of the same song, and leads by saying 'I'm not going to pretend I can write well enough / to tell you what's in my head cuz right now it's just too much,' almost like an acknowledgment of the reused riffs.

The single, such as it is, is pretty darn witty and one of the best tracks. 'Practical Jackets' is a song complaining about the way a potential or ex-partner dresses. It's got a great combination of jangly acoustic and grinding electric guitars, and some pretty funny lyrics. The line 'dress like you're forty when you're only thirty-seven' in particular was a fun and amusing twist on expectations. On the other hand, one of the weakest songs, although I approve of its sentiment, is 'Oh Science'. It's a laundry list of the wonders that science has brought to us, but the rambling song structure and choruses that never quite take off hamstring the tune significantly.

'I Believed in You' is a song about betrayal that's so heartfelt, I started feeling guilty while listening to it, like I personally had done something wrong. Closer 'The Big Squeeze' is a tremulous, delicate track about facing the tough times in life, with Frank singing 'So you hold your ground' over and over again in the chorus. It's profoundly moving, but emotionally taxing. The one-two punch definitely ends the set on a melancholy note, but shows that she has range and isn't just being frivolous.

So perhaps the album achieves more than it initially seems. It invites you to jump in and have a little fun, because the water's fine, but then eventually drags you out to the deep end. So if you're in the mood for bouncy, straightforward indie pop, but with some surprising depth here and there, you can't go wrong with The Big Squeeze.

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