Album Review: JACK MOVES – Passing Protagonists

JACK MOVES (not to be confused with The Jack Moves) began his music career as a member of Toronto-based metal groups, Godstopper and Ayahuasca, and he is also a former member of the hardcore act, Column of Heaven. Feeling limited by heavy music, he decided to go out creating music on his own. He was inspired by live-looping musicians and started busking on the streets of Toronto, which later led to not just playing a variety of venues, but eventually touring across Europe. As he continued to play, his style continued to grow, and it has lead to the release of his first full-length album, Passing Protagonists, which dives deep into his abilities with electronic music, vocal looping, and catchy tunes with 1980s influences.

If I were to describe this debut album in one word, it would be simply this – FUN. I’ve always been very impressed by artists that do it all – instrumentation, vocals, rhythm, and all of the mixing/layering. I would have loved to have been able to see JACK MOVES on the streets of Toronto performing his looping busks. If you’ve never seen an artist who does looping, I highly recommend trying to find a show somewhere, because it’s truly impressive. My first introduction to looping was with cellist, Zoë Keating, and then more recently on the streets of Bath, England, when I ran into Matthew Lennox performing a set. Jack has a style completely different from both of those musicians, however, which shows how much can be done with this style of performing and composing.

Passing Protagonists starts strong with the swelling intro of “Don’t Let The Moon Die Young,” where the listener is quickly introduced to Jack‘s powerful vocal abilities. My first thoughts were that I was reminded a little bit of Francis and the Lights, which I later learned is one of JACK MOVES‘ current musical influences. Jack‘s music slaps you across the face a bit harder in general, though… like a booming 80s power ballad.

Track 2, “Bulletproof Ideas,” has a fun beat that I found myself bopping in my chair to, and it blossoms into a fun electrical guitar riff mid-track (more fun guitar work can be heard later in the album on “Neon Truck”). It’s rather robotic sounding in nature, and brought back memories of a rave store I visited while at Camden Market in London (known as Cyberdog), where you were welcomed at the entrance by two giant robots. While it may not be the imagery he’s looking to convey with this song, I do enjoy when a song stirs up forgotten memories.

The 1980’s influence is prominent throughout the entire album. You are greeted with a lot of heavy synthesizer, fun upbeat rhythms, and strong booming vocals throughout. “Bombs Away” opens with an upbeat, catchy synthesizer that melds with electrifying mixes. It’s probably one of my favorite tracks on the album, because it really just makes me want to dance around the living room with my dog, which is a fun release at the moment! This vibe continues into “Somewhere Better To Be,” and throughout the album as a whole.

JACK MOVES has recently said that some of his current influences include: Peter Gabriel, Francis & the Lights (as mentioned earlier), John Hughes movie soundtracks, Nine Inch Nails, LCD Soundsystem, & Run the Jewels, among others. You can surely hear a lot of those various influences throughout the album, but there are certainly tracks that give me vibes of other bands as well, whether intentional or not.

“Eat in the Car” brings some Roxette vibes to mind once it hits the chorus, and “So Nice of You” gets a little heavier in style & gives me some Twenty One Pilots vibes. Despite having sounds that are similar to other bands, however, JACK MOVES has created his own stylistic sound that is apparent through the entire body of work. He has definitely managed to step away from his metal roots and create something that has his own stamp on it, which he carries through to finish the album on the note of “List of Demands.” If you are looking for something to put on and dance around your living room to, I recommend giving this album a listen… and putting that volume up high.

Sadly, the COVID-19 situation has caused any album release shows he had planned to be cancelled. In light of the forced cancellation of his album release show in Toronto, however, Jack Moves has taken to offering custom videos that he is making for those who sign up for his mailing list. Find out the info on his Facebook page.

Check out this album in full on Spotify below:

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