On Tuesday Los Angeles based creative genius Jerome LOL released his Deleted/Fool EP on home label Friends of Friends. Having previously released an album on FoF as the now defunct LOL Boys, Jerome’s new EP is his first official solo release. I could throw words around about Jerome being a sort of avant-garde musical and visual curator, or how his aesthetic bleeds originality in its cheeky complexities and colorful simplicities – but that would be selling him short, and missing the point. My lack of ability to really envelop Jerome LOL as an entity is precisely his appeal. The off-kilter balance of this ‘tumblr-era x internet 1.0 x 90’s branding’ visual mish-mash with the delicateness and deeper meaning of Jerome LOLs musical endeavors is in my humble opinion so cleverly curated that I am just consistently in awe. Jerome’s filtering and curating of a dizzying amount of visual and audio influences from everywhere across the spectrum into a concise and branded look and sound is something I’ve always respected. His DJ sets are interesting and fun, his label Body High is a wonderful homage to LA and dance music origins while keeping releases and artists fresh and cool, and his music videos are insanely unique and some of my favorites:
The four-track EP begins with “Deleted,” starts with Jerome’s signature swinging drums, in true-to-form fashion created by an antiquated and distorted piece, the DJX-2. The claps and swing fade as Sara Z’s cool and sensitive vocals come in, with clear cut changes in the cord progressions between each verse carrying the mood. It’s these subtleties in the undertones that reveal the emotional complexities of the track – doubling computer jargon with the destruction of a relationship (“we’re offline, no course of action” “control, escape, command, delete, it’s all in our hands”). The track evolves and grows in almost pop-song format with repeated choruses and verses, a bridge and an outro, which shuts off all the drums just before Sara utters her last line- printing the track in your head.
“Always” continues with the cymbal-heavy, swinging drum patterns, this time lighter in feeling given the faster pattern & more effervescent vocals. The keys in the chorus are touching and warm, and the various inflexions of Sara’s voice on the word “Always” is captivating and soulful. The heavy distortion on the bassline and clanging drums on “Fool” flip the EP from pop-leanings to a much more club/warehouse mindset, until Angelina Lucero’s melancholy and poignant vocals rip you off your shuffling feet and onto the floor. But as the heavy bassline fades, a glockenspiel-sounding bridge comes in before Angelina’s chorus comes in, aided by incredibly pitched-up echoes of her voice carrying each line. The clanging drums and garage moodiness are met by the pitch shifts and “this instrument can never sound sad” use of the glockenspiel – it’s this touch of color in an otherwise entirely depressing track that is a common theme in Jerome’s work. The EP closes with “True”, another considerably moody song from Angelina Lucero’s teethy and slow vocals and sort of rain-down-your-windowpane piano chords that rain so heavily on the track it nearly drowns out her vocals until the very end.
Like with all artists that have developed their own signature patterns and sounds, I see the argument from both sides on Jerome’s heavy use of jazzy/swing drums and pop-oriented progressions: on one side it doesn’t have an grand sense of variety, but on the other it’s clearly a sound and vibe that nobody else is really doing. You can identify a Jerome LOL track from just a few seconds of listening, but because of that the tracks can be considered to start sounding the same. I’m personally more drawn to the ‘Deleted’ half of the EP, which to me is an example of the vibe of work I enjoy most from Jerome; the ‘Fool’ half dives much deeper into a darker side of his music which I simply do not grasp as well – I think that’s a side he’s still sonically developing. But I do have to give props to Jerome for really nailing the structure of his tracks.