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Jesu: Why Are We Not Perfect?

Jesu: Why Are We Not Perfect?

Label:Hydra Head
Release Date:2008

By Brandon Soderburg | Posted 8/27/2008

After last year's Conqueror, there's not much more Justin Broadrick can do with Jesu's mix of indie-rock emotion and hard-ass heaviness. So it's not a surprise that his recent work strays from that signature sound. But when the music on Why Are We Not Perfect? and a split with art-metal outfit Envy eschews oppressive guitar for electronics, it's hard to not be a knee-jerk fan and freak out.

Perfect's opener, "Farewell," and the titular track kick off like the ethereal intro to so many other Jesu songs, but without crunching riffs or some kind of release--the songs go nowhere. Along with slightly heavier "alternate" versions of those two tracks, "Blind and Faithless" is the most effective, with guitar layers and an odd fried-wire synth surge throughout. Most of the time, though, this new Jesu sound recalls such lame industrial-pop bands as Filter or something. That's sort of cool in theory--art-metal God makes embarrassingly sincere alt-rock--but Jesu's appeal was, in part, the ragged disconnect between Broadrick's whiny vocals and the oppressive mass of crunching guitars. Sissy singing accompanied by sissy electronic accompaniment makes too much sense.

Things work out a little better on the Envy split. The Jesu tracks rumble but also approach danceability. Still, Envy's contributions are most memorable. Its stuttering microhouse jam "Conclusion of Existence" beats Jesu's attempts, and on "A Winter Quest for Fantasy," Envy does crushingly heavy better, too. "Fantasy" starts off light and Chris Isaak-sexy, then explodes into a crescendo of searing guitars and cathartic noise. In short, it's doing what Jesu should've done all along.

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