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The Jealous Sound: Kill Them With Kindness


The Jealous Sound

Album: Kill Them With Kindness
Label: Better Looking

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Singer-guitarist Blair Shehan has the gift of great songs and the curse of bad timing. His band Knapsack, which recorded three albums of passionate, literate rock between 1995 and 1998, arrived and departed too quickly to sink in—and too early to ride the coattails of similar-sounding indie-to-mainstream bands like Jimmy Eat World. But just as Knapsack was closing up, Shehan formed The Jealous Sound, plucking members from other California bands (none particularly well-known, save Sunday's Best) to keep his songs alive. Unsurprisingly, The Jealous Sound's self-titled debut EP, released in 2000, didn't fall far from the Knapsack tree: Shehan toned down the thunder, particularly in his voice, but half the album would've snuggled nicely into his old group's final chapter. That time around, the timing proved better, at least temporarily. Big labels came rolling in, and The Jealous Sound signed to Mojo Records with high hopes. But just weeks later, the label closed its doors, leaving the band in legal limbo at the worst possible time. Somebody lost out, because the group's years-in-the-waiting debut full-length Kill Them With Kindness takes a bold but not shameless stab at the mainstream, and half of its songs would have made sense sidled up next to Foo Fighters' "My Hero" or Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" on Top 40 radio. Like those bands, The Jealous Sound doesn't sacrifice meaty choruses, multi-tracked vocals, or big hooks for the sake of credibility. Kill Them With Kindness is gratifying both in spite of and because of its slickness. Another step toward the middle of the road would make it mundane, and subduing the natural impulse toward catchiness would be pointless. The path between hits far more often than it misses, and for every misguided lyric, there's a sparkly rock chorus, hand-clapping backbeat, and cinematic rock-out that tips the scales in The Jealous Sound's favor.