Sweden based Irish band Jape initially began as a side project for frontman/bass player Richie Egan in 2003 but despite the passage of 12 years and the breakup of his original band, it still feels like one. This electro-rock outfit draws sonic comparisons to Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and the synthier side of Metronomy but without the dynamism of those two acts. Their songs all have a danceable groove to them; unfortunately it’s pretty much the same on every track, meaning that they take you to a certain level and then keep you there. It’s easy enough to bob along to but ends up lulling you to sleep with repetitive beats.
Not that everyone felt this way. Judging by the Irish accents around us in the crowd, it was something of a homecoming gig and top marks to them for enthusiasm. People were singing along and their love for the band seemed intense and genuine, unfortunately we didn’t quite see why. The crowd reaction indicates a strong core fan base nurtured over a number of years and it’s encouraging to see a band that are able to continue making music over a long period of time without any significant commercial success. These are working musicians rather than rock stars, something of a dying breed in today’s industry. There were promising moments in the set, with the pop hook in ‘Absolutely Animals’ proving a highlight, however many of their tracks seem to occupy a curious middle ground between pop and experimental sounds; neither poppy enough to be anthemic nor experimental enough to be particularly exciting and ground-breaking.
Penultimate song ‘Floating’ was the most exciting part of the set and demonstrated just how interesting this band could be before the somewhat unnecessary encore ended the gig on an anticlimactic note. There is clearly a demand for Jape as their longevity and popularity with the crowd testifies, however I can’t see it growing to particular heights any time soon.