Middle Class Fashion's Jungle Release Show is This Friday at Off Broadway: Album Review

Categories: Homespun

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Someday, maybe, Jenn Malzone's pen will dry up, having written dozens of sharp, biting songs about love's pitiful game of Ping-Pong. If and when that time comes, it won't be soon.

About eighteen months after releasing the roundly admired Girl Talk, Malzone and her mates in Middle Class Fashion return with a fourteen-track LP and a new member in tow. Katie Lindhorst joins the band on synthesizer and backing vocals; she transmits a lot of energy onstage, but her contributions here add a little synthy ambience to the piano-driven tracks. It's neither an obtrusive nor lightweight addition -- her gossamer keys on "Come Around Anytime" give body and texture to a band that has proudly made do with a straight-ahead piano/bass/drums trio.

See Also:
- Jungle Out There: Jenn Malzone Talks Middle Class Fashion's Outstanding New LP

The band's debut was pointed and assured, but Jungle doubles down on the band's strengths and shows meaningful tweaks in both arrangement and Malzone's lyrical approach. She's great at slinging arrows from on high, but here she wears the romantic bull's-eye proudly.

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Bryan Sutter
MCF

Thanks in part to engineer Jason McEntire and his Sawhorse Studios, the production is cleaner and brighter, with little sonic filigrees throughout that were absent on the largely home-recorded debut. A track like "Junk" is, on the surface, the type of song that has come to typify MCF's style -- heavy piano chords, on-point harmonies, a sticky chorus -- but the arrangement here elevates the track by letting the harmonies shine like a Beach Boys breakdown.

Plenty of tracks on Jungle will sound familiar to fans of Girl Talk, but "Golden Rose" stands out as the biggest shift in sound on the new album. Brian McClelland's bass playing, normally a paragon of McCartney-indebted buoyancy, gets positively slappy. That little bit of funk is matched by Lindhorst's slow-oscillating synth, which supplants the piano as the lead instrument.


MCF at 2720 Cherokee.

Maybe that's why Malzone sounds like she's pushing the urgency of the lyrics, imbuing the track with earnestness or anger or both. It's a magnetic performance and a sweet slice of dance-pop that's already received more than a few spins on community radio in town. Chances are, you won't have to work too hard to hear these songs on the air or on stages in the coming months.

Middle Class Fashion CD Release
9 p.m. Friday, August 2. Free.
Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. 314-773-3363

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. Email music@riverfronttimes.com for more information.

See Also:
- The Top Ten Ways to Piss Off Your Bartender at a Music Venue
- Ten Bands You Never Would Have Thought Used to Be Good
- The Top 15 Things That Annoy the Crap Out of Your Local Sound Guy

Follow RFT Music on Twitter or Facebook. Follow RFT Music editor Daniel Hill on Twitter too, if you are into that sort of thing.



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