Four years ago, I was captivated by the humble debut EP from New Brunswick’s Olivier Jarda. Diagrams was a collection of indie rock anthems and blissful fuzzed out ear worms that helped push Jarda to the top of my fictional, most listened to list.
Since that time, Jarda’s output has been less frequent than I hoped. The enjoyable Ghost Fees kept him writing, but Good Luck Cartel was years in the making. It makes sense; Jarda found time to write and record as he moved from country from country to country for school and work, but to borrow an overused admission, the wait was worth it.
These songs deliver on the immense potential Jarda oozed on his previous EPs, but show a progression that demands acknowledgement. The opening numbers, “Speed of Light” and “Diving Bell”, are hooky anthems that are warmed with strings and piano and the delightful “Piece of Fiction” dances around your headphones, but Jarda confidently adds fuzz, depth and grit to the arrangements as the album develops.
“Skinny Grass” starts with chunky electric and Jarda and his band masterfully add layers and head nodding riffs to his words. “Tendencies” starts offers a rugged exterior, but Jarda uses piano and percussion to turn that anger into a subtle, infectious melody. The ominous tones of “Into the Lake” add another sound the record, nicely balancing some of the lighter moments and it’s those kinds of skillful balancing acts that show how Jarda, with thanks to producer Charles Austin, thought out the little details.
Good Luck Cartel is more polished and precise than his previous work, but the more focused studio treatment translates nicely and helps deliver Jarda’s complete vision. This is a collection of sophisticated and intelligent pop, but one that never comes off as pretentious. Jarda writes straight forward, beautiful songs, avoiding the pitfalls of concepts, repeating themes or character exercises.
Olivier is probably to understated to gain National acclaim, but these songs are worthy of the patient presentation they received at the Echo Chamber, and certainly deserve your attention. Find out for yourself when Jarda releases Good Luck Cartel at The Company House on April 14th.
MP3:: Olivier Jarda - Piece of Fiction