When Australian rock band Jet returned with an electro-rock collaboration courtesy of The Bloody Beetroots, it’s fair to say that everyone with sound judgement and good taste had a small lump of vomit rise up the back of their throats. With an equal part mix of classic, scorching rock and obnoxiously rip-roaring electronica, My Name Is Thunder, was like The Rogue Traders multiplied by infinitum.
In 2003, when Jet first appeared on the Australian scene, critics and sober people everywhere realised that the bands entire identity and sound were clumsy reflections of the rock ‘n’ roll canon, from AC/DC to The Stooges to The Rolling Stones and beyond. Their sophomore release, Shine On, was placated in a textless review by Pitchfork magazine with nothing short of the visceral and absolute truth: a 0.0 rating accompanied by a video of a monkey urinating in its own mouth.
This year Jet frontman Nic Cester released his debut solo record Sugar Rush. It’s a notable improvement from anything Jet has ever produced, but that’s not to say that Cester’s tendency towards creative self-indulgence has waned. There’s a far more eclectic presence of instrumentation, from the mystic breakdown in Psichebello, which features a trippy flute solo, to the Tame Impala-esque riffing of Strange Dreams; such is in all likelihood attributed to Cester by his seasoned Italian backing band, The Milano Elettrica. Cester had this to say about his talent in these new creative contexts: “…the band are unbelievably good – in fact, I’m probably the worst musician in my own band.” Now you’re getting it, Nic.
In spite of being supported by an experienced group of musicians, Sugar Rush only manages to spurt forth a smokescreen of rock ‘n’ roll eclecticism. The album ultimately offers up pale imitations of psych-rock tropes, but fails to individualise them. On a positive note, Nic Cester can sing in tune.