Jan Doyle Band

[The Body Balanced sleeve]The Body Balanced" (EP, 2020) !Recommended!

Self Released

Those (like me) who prefer their artists to focus on a particular style or genre might find Jan Doyle Band’s magpie approach to songwriting frustrating. I get that. I really do. It’s taken me a while to simply accept that when it comes to JDB releases it’s futile approaching them with any specific desires. As you’re most likely disappointed.

Main creative force Derek Anthony Williams has playfully created his own genre - ‘Insurrectionary Neo Futurism’ - to encompass JDB’s output. And as vague and open to interpretation as that is, it somehow perfectly captures Williams’ no-hold-barred approach to music and live performance.

There’s a kind of retro-1979/1980 vibe about much of this EP and the musical genres it spans were all popular during that period. This isn’t a contrived strategy, it merely reflects Derek Anthony Williams’ influences and tastes.

Headliner The Body Balanced channels per-first album The Sisters of Mercy. Its spareness, reverbed vocals echoing into the space provided by the music creates a haunting effect. I first heard this live a couple of years ago and it immediately stood out. But this recorded counterpart is simply terrific. Instantly up there as one of my favourite Jan Doyle Band tracks.

Confusion’s DAF influence is obvious. But that’s not to say it doesn’t bring its own imagination to the proto-EBM genre. A poignant nod to another key influence coming just days before DAF’s Gaby Delgado Lopez sadly died all too soon.

Reflections starts as if it’s going to be a chilled out cover of The Human League’s Being Boiled but quickly develops a strong style of its own. The melody in the background recalls early Kraftwerk. One of Jan Doyle Band's most mellow and effective songs to date.

Sounding uncomfortably like the theme tune to a BBC children’s programme from 1980 Play Pretend really ought not to work. The trite-sounding lyrics grate on first exposure but, like a lot of JDB’s output, Play Pretend is actually a lot smarter than it appears. Perhaps even more than its creator realises? Although not the highpoint on this EP, this will be the earworm you’ll keep hearing inside your head when you wake up a week later.

By the time we get to a bonkers, and yet alarmingly effective cover of Baccara's camptastic 1977 disco hit Yes Sir, I Can Boogie you’ll either have been persuaded into submission or smashed your audio device. (I’m pretty certain Williams will be entirely happy with either outcome.) It builds relentlessly both in tempo and impact, pausing only to allow Williams to tell us in a measured tone “This is the Jan Doyle Band. Premier practitioners of Insurrectionary Neo Futurism”, before it explodes into boogie woogie oblivion.

Four bonus tracks round off the EP. Three variants on the title track plus a demo of Confusion. The instrumental version of The Body Balanced highlighting the quality of the underlying composition. 7/10 

Rob Dyer (April 2020)

See also:
Gig Reviews - Jan Doyle Band
Videos - Jan Doyle Band