By Michael Grondin
Don’t judge an album by its cover, even if it’s a pixelated image of a clown stealing a baby from a stroller on some downtown street. Actually, on second thought, you can judge all you want.
It’s hard to avoid preconceived notions of what Jerk in the Can’s third release, Big Crime Baby, will sound like, based on the grotesque and overinflated imagery they have built up for this album, including a video depicting a grown-up-mutant-baby-guy stealing diapers from a convenience store, etcetera, etcetera.
However, the understated, minimalist synthesizer punk Jerk in the Can’s duo create on Big Crime Baby goes over much more smoothly than you’d imagine. The eight songs on the album show diversity in sound, structure as well as varying sonic ideas.
Out of damp, reverb drenched, bit-crushed pools of darkness come bouncy analog arps, cheesily dreamy synth pads and big minimal drum machine grooves. These elements coat the clear vocals, which switch from ghostlty ballads and awkward raps to heavily modulated screams of agony.
Jerk in the Can showcase a balance of eerie dream pop — reminiscent of Australia’s HTRK — that divulges into aggressive industrial noise, taking direct influence from Skinny Puppy or early Nine Inch Nails, sprinkled with an aesthetic suitable for an Insane Clown Posse worship band.
Though that depiction may not be the intention of Big Crime Baby, and yes, the album is corny as hell in many ways, the sound of Big Crime Baby is executed with bizarre precision, unexpectedly creating brooding cyberpunk with a lot of room to breathe.Big Crime Baby, Jerk in the Can