Who wears the Jockstrap in the relationship? If it’s in the shape of electronic music to come, I sure hope it’s Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye. A young, ambitious, duo who excite me a fair bit. Here they present their sophomore EP. Their first since signing to Warp, following 2018’s ‘Love Is The Key To The City’. The two now showcase a more ambitious collection. Placing classical music, PC pop, hip hop and jazz into a blender, then serving it’s contents with eggs, out of their big black frying pan. That’s if i’m to speak like Ellery writes.
The EP opens with ‘Robert’. A number that completely abandons everything expected from a Jockstrap track. Instead it borrows a lot of elements from hip hop. Although admittedly a little unusual for the genre’s traditional instrumental pallet. It’s so loose in it’s approach. The duo use a technique like 100 Gecs and throw everything at the wall. It starts off sounding like a Tyler The Creator project, but soon looses that structure. Samples of doors being opened and water droplets are thrown into the mix. Some stranger egyptian sounding synths later. And if this happens not to be daring enough, the middle ‘post rock’ section surely will be. Ellery’s vocals are chopped and screwed as she delivers her modernised, roughneck Sacher Masoch. ‘I want to be the bitch. Be the masochist. Motherfucker.’ Damn. This is cold blooded. Hip hop trio Injury Reserve make an appearence too, although truthfully their verse is a bit underwhelming in comparison to Ellerys. It doesn’t always work, yes, but the risks that do pay off nicely.
The lead single ‘Acid’ on the other hand always works. The track is a fascinating number that has haunted me positively since it’s release. I’ve converted newcomers to Jockstrap with this number and for good reason. It’s 60s-esque waltz groove is infectious. Piano and processed violins set the core base of the track, before video game synths are washed over them, creating a new world of sound. This track is plain gorgeous instrumentally. Then lyrically it is heartbreaking. All Ellery has stated is that it is written about her brother. Some lines are open to interpretation, painting images of vases of acid being smashed to smithereens, while others hit home in their frankness. ‘I sent you my heart. Since then we’ve spoken twice. But what if you were to kill me off or worse, yourself?’
‘Yellow In Green’ takes a classical approach. Here the duo’s love for composers such as Tchaikovsky and Brahms is made evident, and it’s really fresh. It sounds completely out of sync with today’s trends, even in it’s vocal melodies, in which Ellery sounds like a B Girl singing jazz in a film noir. It is also pretty reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s work, especially when it’s melody is comped with it’s lyrics. They are descriptive, poetic and about what else but love? Yet they aren’t cheap. If delivered in a novel, the words would bleed off the page. ‘I think you are the error of my eye because I feel the best I ever have.’
‘The City’ takes a mix of everything heard at this point. Split in two legs. The first is a beautiful, despondant piano ballad. Ellery depicts an unknown city and it’s overwhelming influence on it’s newcomer. Likely influenced by her move to London. One that create these existential visions, as all high anticipation is crumbled. The second half is a blue smarties overdose. Skye provides his magic in a glitchy instrumental that is distorted and compressed to the maximum. It sounds like something off of Death Grips ‘Government Plates’ or Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ album. Ellery’s vocals are layered up, and pitch shifted all over the place. The lyrics turn to grotesque and sometimes childish territory, alike to the EP’s cover sleeve. ‘I sat on the beavers face, and he sat on the beavers face and told him what the problem was. In the light the monster was frying four eggs in a huge black frying pan, and Golden buckwheat and rye in iron toaster, hit the ceiling, onto the blue tiled, errrr’.
‘City Hell’ closes off the collection somewhat gratifyingly. Though why did they use the most frustrating false fade out ending? Alas – Not my favorite of Jockstrap’s experiments. Nevertheless this is an epic number that comes fully equipped with Brian May esque electric guitars, making for a grand finale. They sound a fair bit like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and I can’t tell if it’s a sample or not. They sure are grand if so or if not. Ellery delivers some great, melodramatic wordplay as showcased earlier on the EP. This time smothered in vocoder effects. The reversed guitar solos and Skye’s backing vocals add a nice touch.
For two students still studying music degrees this is beyond brilliant. The quirky and jaunty experiments leave huge anticipation for the future. The EP comes out on Friday. A new release date following it’s initial Black Lives Matter delay. All profits from Bandcamp orders go to the NAACP legal defence fund.