JESU- ‘Never’

Way back in 2010, Jesu mastermind Justin Broadrick declared that his band had strayed too far from the guitar-driven sound that he had intended, and too far into electronica. He resolved to divert the electronic elements into a new project called Pale Sketcher and return Jesu to its roots. And it worked. For a while. But now, on ‘Never’, the lines are blurred again, maybe more than ever. This is a record of icy synths, pulsing drums, ambient drones and digital crunch. Some of it really works- ‘Never There for You’ is a unique mutation of dance music with a pace rarely found in Jesu’s back catalogue, and the first half of ‘Never…’ sounds like Sigur Ros in the fog. But some of it feels untidy or incomplete- ‘Because of You’ is an intriguing but ultimately underwhelming riffless dirge, and ‘Suffocator’ overexposes Broadrick’s vocals abilities while never once living up to its title. Considered an EP by Jesu’s usual lengthy standards, there’s still 30 minutes of music to deliberate and digest here, but the enduring sense is of a fascinating but flawed experimental effort. I feel like I’ve said this before but it’s always true- where Broadrick, and certainly Jesu, goes from here will be very interesting.

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