Jonathan Boulet - We Keep the Beat, Found the Sound, See the Need, Start the Heart
Tumbling drums! Marimba madness! Gang Vocals! These are the three key ingredients that Jonathan Boulet employs on his sophomore album, We Keep the Beat, Found the Sound, See the Need, Start the Heart, an indie rock/pop album that features fun, adrenaline pumping songs.
Boulet is a twenty one year old jack-of-all trades that played every instrument on the album. He is an exceptional drummer and We Keep the Beat... is a rare album where the drums do more than just err...keep the beat. Despite sounding like chaos throughout, Boulet is a shrewd drummer and his intentions are clear. 'You're A Animal' and 'Mangle Trang' both open with what sounds like an army of tom-toms. They also feature big gang vocals that accompany just the drums. There are various examples of this throughout, that gives the album a primal feel, the interlude track 'Trounce' being another obvious example.
We Keep the Beat... has the blueprints of guitar based indie-rock, though the additional 'ingredients' breathe new life into what without could easily be written off as standard indie fare. Boulet is never afraid to ramp up the amps and a lot of the time we are absolutely pummelled by multiple instruments, the philosophy being 'more is more'. On nearly every chorus there are multiple voices chanting in unison. Boulet is totally unabashed in doing so and this only enhances the album's standpoint – forty-five minutes worth of in-your-face pandemonium. 'This Song is called Ragged' is the obligatory catchy single that features a repeating motif on marimba and an uplifting chorus. 'Dread is this Place' even manages to feature a South American instrument and riff.
The song titles are typically bizarre e.g. 'Keep Away You Feral Son of a Bitch' and the lyrical content mirrors this. Boulet seems preoccupied with death, a number of the songs drawing inspiration from this. However, the lyrics are never morbid or particularly downcast. A 'Hallowed Hag' is certainly a different way of describing a dead person and Boulet notes that they are "on the death express" over caveman style rock. On the chorus of 'Black Smokehat' he rather uncaringly sings "Oh my God, you are dead."
'Piao Voca' is a much more folk inspired song than anything else here and possibly owes a debt to Fleet Foxes. By the end of the track however, Boulet has yet again gone big on sound, bashing us with what once may have resembled folk. The closing number 'Cent Voix' is the only real moment of relief – eight minutes worth of a capella voices slowly harmonising. After all that went before it, the piece feels anti-climactic and it is a shame that Boulet deemed it necessary to include it. In this instance it would have been a better choice to 'burn out than fade away'.
We Keep the Beat, Found the Sound, See the Need, Start the Heart is a raucous, energetic and uncompromising listen. It is a record that turns up at a party, knocks over the best china, snogs someone's girlfriend, gets into a fight, spikes the punch and leaves.