CD Review of Shaka Rock by Jet
Jet: Shaka Rock
Recommended if you like
C/DC, The Strokes, The Hives
Label
Five Seven Music
Jet: Shaka Rock

Reviewed by Neil Carver

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T
hey took three years between their first two records, and now, three years later, Jet release their third studio album to prove that they still know how to rock hard while at the same time demonstrating the musical and emotional maturity that comes with time and experience. With an explosive worldwide debut in 2003, they sold 3 million copies of Get Born, an album that held up surprisingly well under the weight of such a hot single as "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." After touring with Oasis, they came out with Shine On in 2006, meeting with critical acclaim and absolutely zero interest from the paying public. Unlike many other bands who can’t maintain a creative output past their blowout debut, JET is still making powerful music on great albums… but the question is whether the fans have deserted them.

Their latest, Shaka Rock, should reward the diehards and let the rest of the fickle public know that Jet is still a force to be reckoned with.

Kicking things off with the single "KIA," the boys let you know they haven’t forgotten what made them big in the first place. If any song is definitive Jet, it’s a tune about lusting after the super hottie at the supermarket. More of a grinding rocker than the danceable "Are You Gonna…," it’s fueled by the same lusty aggression. The structure of the song is an ode to the band’s greatest influence, AC/DC. The phrasing is pure "Back in Black," and this is perhaps a key to the album as a whole. Jet refuses to go away, just like their idols.

One of the major changes from the first two records is a retreat from the power ballads that were real strengths, and allowing for more Britrock and post-punk influences to carry the weight. While that might sound like a bad move, it really works on Shaka Rock, making each song memorable and nearly every track a possible hit single. "Beat on Repeat" is heavily Clash-influenced, with a touch of Mick Jones reggae guitar, though it avoids any kind of political statement. This rolls right into "Genius," which is pure power pop that would fit alongside any track off Get the Knack.

At the core of the record is a tinge of anger that speaks the unpleasant realities that come with the rise and fall of stardom. "La Dee Da" is a retort to any detractors, avoiding disillusionment and reaffirming the strength of the band. "Hollywood" is a blatant but catchy repudiation of what you find at the top of the ladder when you achieve what you thought you wanted and it isn’t all that. The song mashes up some interesting Green Day influences alongside bluesy Rolling Stone moments to make for the most anthemic track on the disc. "Times Like These" is the most post-punk, with shouting teen backup singers that reaffirms the need for good old rock ‘n’ roll.

The real standouts on Shaka Rock achieve their success in very different ways. "17" plays with a Supertramp-styled piano intro, carrying the simple rhythm throughout a beautiful piece of heartfelt guitar pop about the love of youth. "Walk" is a percussion-driven statement of purpose and conflicting frustration. "Start the Show" indulges a blusier style, aligning them with contemporaries like Wolfmother and the Parlour Mob.

Most amazing are the tracks that indulge heavily in trad-rock elements. "Let Me Out" and the final track, "Grudge," both bring classic Heartbreakers to mind. Tom Petty could easily follow "Don’t Do Me Like That" with JET’s "Let Me Out" in concert and you’d think it was his original work. "Grudge" is the only real ballad on the album, bringing Shaka Rock to a beautiful close.

With their third record, JET has created their best album yet. They’ve grown in the past six years, and clearly want to make sure anyone who listens will know that they haven’t gone away and are, in fact, stronger than ever. They’ve had their ups and downs and refuse to quit, and this makes for a powerful CD that never fails to remember that rock ‘n’ roll is a damn good time.

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