As the album’s title suggests, Divorce is a saga about failed relationships. Soundwise, it is a continuation of the band’s 2014 album Circulation: bold, memorable rock riffs combined with tight, heavy rhythms and unashamedly anxious lyrics. In other words, fans who prefer consistency will definitely enjoy a listen of JPNSGRLS, take two.
The central theme of Divorce is introduced with the first track, “Oh My God.” Its lines “I was conceived in New York / Two strangers planted a seed / That was four years before the divorce / I think it had an effect on me” have a clarity that sets the tone for the entire album. From this first track to the anthemic “Holding Back,” disillusionment haunts the record in the form of an angst that appeals to our inner teenagers, our quarter-life crises, and beyond. JPNSGRLS isn’t just about our insides though. In an interview with Clash, the band points out that “Bully For You” is “essentially a protest song about the lack of gender equality in the world.”
On the other hand, “A Comprehensive List of Things I Love” is a unique, rambling track, but its sound is out-of-place from the album’s uniform sound due to its experimentation with female backing vocals. The track’s dynamism and fun gives way to one of the few slower songs, “Circus,” which has varying rhythms and reflective lyrics.
“Holding Back” is the most emotional and expressive of the tracks. It begins pensively with a sense of loneliness before building and exploding into an obsessive frenzy, only to recede to nothing but drum beats. The album then closes with the exciting ender “19 Pound Baby,” establishing JPNSGRLS as as a moshable, party-ready weekend band both in the concert hall and on your stereo. In summary, Divorce is an intense listen — don’t expect to let it give you a break — that proves the Vancouver rock group isn’t running out of things to deliver with its unique sound.