reviewed by Michael Thomas
Jordan Klassen seems intent on never doing the same thing twice, and that’s why each new album feels like something fresh. Repentence was “fairy-folk,” Javelin had new-age influences, and Big Intruder takes elements of both and fuses them into something new. There’s more of an emphasis on guitars and off-kilter keys that take what could be straightforward folk songs into spacey, almost psychedelic territory at times.
Klassen also has a talent for creating thematic albums, and with Big Intruder, he’s writing about the endless choices we have and the effects of what we choose and what we don’t. A great example of this is “The Same Thing Over and Over.” Though more guitar-heavy than a song from Repentance, it has the same kind of warmth just from Klassen’s expressive vocals. In this song, the narrator shuns the idea of choice altogether, even going so far as to say “I’ll take them ’til I’m dead.” The danger in not making choices… well, just ask the girl who ate nothing but ramen all of her life.
Sometimes our choices are baffling. “Housefly,” backed by haunting guitar and creepy keys, is a song about the titular, maddeningly annoying creature. “Never contented to be where you are/Drawn to the sunlight but won’t get so far,” we don’t understand the fly’s motivations, and often we don’t even understand our own.
Sometimes our choices pile up to our detriment. The quick-strumming “Too Far Gone” is a classic Klassen song in that it examines a scenario that seems intensely personal. In the song, the narrator has made some changes but knows he’s still going to hurt someone, because he’s “too far gone to be insecure.”
Sometimes our choices make us “Hard to Please.” This song features a hell of a falsetto from Klassen as he sings of a person who just won’t be happy. There’s no greater hyperbole on the album than this line: “So if you want the sun and stars well, just spend your life on waiting.”
There’s a lot of fun arrangements on this album too. “Vitaman” sounds like if a cowboy song were filtered through a keyboard, and the title track features a much bigger sound than expected from Klassen, complete with a gloriously poppy chorus. Instrumentally, the most impressive is “Yer Cure,” which starts with a glorious string section before transitioning to a much spacier-sounding song, all in under four minutes.
We all make choices every day, and Klassen’s choice to continue to change his approach to each album is a choice he should never regret.
Top Tracks: “Yer Cure”; “Big Intruder”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)