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August 29, 2002

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If nice guys finish last, someone forgot to tell Jets to Brazil. Abandoning Pantera testosterone, the band's second album favors an approach that focuses on sincerity and failed romantic sentiment. More subdued than their debut, Four Cornered Night is at times a layered and moody record that often sacrifices rock for substance. In many cases, distorted guitars are replaced in favor of pianos and organs. This new sound provides songs like "In the Summer's When You Really Know" and "Little Light" with thick textures and gorgeous melodies. At another point, the envelope is pushed even further with "Empty Picture Frame," a lonely acoustic number that sounds like it could have been recorded by Wilco.

Despite Jets to Brazil's musical maturity, they did not forget their distortion pedals or emo-core roots. "You're Having the Time of My Life" and "Pale New Dawn" would not sound out of place on a Promise Ring record. Jets to Brazil even manages to inject elements of classic rock into their sound, for "Mid-day Anonymous" contains a riff that eerily sounds like an AC/DC outtake.

Like the confessional poets of the 1950's, Jets to Brazil's lyrics, like those of other emo bands, can be intensely autobiographical and sentimental. Throughout the album, former Jawbreaker Blake Schwarzenbach presents lyrics that namedrop -- he mentions his own family and even addresses his own bandmates. Weaving in and out of different tempers, Schwarzenbach seems to cover the entire emotional spectrum. There is despair, for relationships meet "dead ends" and lovers inevitably become "strangers." But there is also hope because "there are so many people to meet" and "this country was promised to me from the start." All of these emotional outbursts culminate in "All Things Good and Nice," the album's final track. Here, Schwarzenbach declares "I love feeling like I've got something to give," which is evident throughout the album.

Unlike some other modern punk acts, Jets to Brazil brings attention to the music, not the packaged image a 15-year-old can purchase at a Hot Topic. Jets to Brazil provide the soundtrack for the pensive punk, not for the pre-pubescent Blink-182 fan. Four Cornered Night is sincere and heartfelt; honesty never sounded so good.


Charlie Farmer