Joe Jackson: Fool Album Review

Story posted January 28, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Scott Perdue

The classic Joe Jackson is back with his twentieth studio album, Fool. Recently reaching the 40th anniversary of his debut album, Looking Sharp, Jackson had wanted to exhibit how far he has come since his debut. A culmination of Jackson’s original post punk style and jazz influences, Fool attempts to showcase the developing journey Jackson has had since his original record.

Known best for his hit songs “Is She Really Going Out With Him?,” “Steppin’ Out” and “Breaking Us In Two,” Jackson has had a very successful career that has grown alongside him through the decades. Moving from his original punk alternative style to a far more contemporary and jazz influenced feel, Jackson has always been an artist willing to experiment with his sound. Recently struggling with relevancy, an issue most artists who have contributed so much to the development of their genre have had, Jackson has continued to reinvent himself in order to keep up with the ever-shifting mainstream. His latest attempt, Fool, is a distanced, yet reminiscent eight-track tribute to Jackson’s musical journey since his 1979 debut.

Having apparent struggles with composition, Fool feels unnecessarily comprised of filler tracks with an unfinished eclectic feel. The album’s opening track, “Big Black Cloud” doesn’t have any particularly interesting commentary or any form of relevant lyricism. The background of the track attempts to create a foreboding darker sound, which ends up sounding far more clashing and irritating than it does interesting or captivating. The album’s first single, “Fabulously Absolute,” has similar struggles with its sound, tapping into multiple unmeshed influences ranging from post-punk new wave to garage rock-pop.

An unfortunate weakness of the album is Jackson’s lacking lyricism. Several tracks on the album fail to incorporate any form of interesting reflection or substantial commentary, leading to most of the album not having very much to offer in terms of revisiting potential. The worst offender on the album is the track “Dave,” which feels out of place and unneeded. With lyrics such as “Dave – lives in a cave, under a hill. A little way from the sea, two cups of tea…” The track feels as though Jackson was piecing together the rhymes as he went, with no real meaning infused into the music. However, the album is able to pick up more energy toward the latter half, with songs such as “Strange Land” and “Friend Better,” which are able to capture more of Jackson’s earlier potent punk and jazz infused styles. The closing track, “Alchemy” incorporates an eerie haunting sort of jazz sound which sends off the album with a tune reminiscent of Jackson’s “Breaking Us In Two.”

While Fool is very much a lacking addition to Jackson’s discography, there is something to be said about his resilient effort to keep up with the current landscape of the music industry. Although some of Jackson’s references to his earlier work are nostalgic and pleasant, the album as a whole, feels scrapped together and unfinished. Hopefully Jackson will be able to return to his eclectic style in a future release with a far more directed approach to his album’s purpose, instead of an assortment of unconnected tracks.

Rating: 5/10

 

 

Scott Perdue is a sophomore majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.