Here, remember when Weezer were good? No? Well JEFF the Brotherhood are here to remind you of those halcyon days – although their take is slightly more stoned, with less erudite lyrics. We Are the Champions proves to be a fun yet unchallenging, record, an example of some guys having a good time – and remembering to write tunes.
Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall were originally in the short-lived (and much-missed, at least by this writer) garage rock teens Be Your Own Pet, but left to pursue their own brand of spazz-punk by forming the two-piece JEFF. The band’s sound developed until 2009’s Heavy Days became more of a garage/psych record, with the guitars carrying more of a crunch. So, We Are the Champions does contain a fair amount of this sort of sound, but it’s the inclusion of the poppier moments that signal a lurch in another direction, that of the aforementioned Weezer. No finer examples of this can be found outside of opening track ‘Hey Friend’ or the slacker anthem ‘Bummer’; the former begins with a more psych solo than Weezer might touch, but once the vocals kick in we’re in familiar, nudge-nudge-wink-wink territory: “I’ve been thinking about your mom/You can tell me if it’s really wrong/It’s been going on for way too long/I can’t help it if I am happy when she is around”. It turns out to be a sweet little song about a kid praising his friend’s parents for raising him so well, and it’s grunge-pop worthy of The Blue Album. ‘Bummer’, with its “whoa-oah-oh” is a facsimile of Rivers Cuomo’s finest moments, and is a fun tale of a drunken night on the town.
If you’re looking for more brutal moments, then the heads-down riffage of ‘Shredder’ and ‘Wastoid Girl’ (wonderful title, chaps) will be pleasing on the ear; while the watery psych of ‘Endless Fire’ and the out-of-tune sitar on ‘Health and Strength’ hint at the brothers mellowing with their relative age. However the most fun is always had when the pop edge comes out: ‘Ripper’ might have its fair share of speaker- (and brain-) damaging moments but it’s also a cracking piece of FM rock; and ‘Mellow Out’, ‘Stay Up Late’ and the aforementioned ‘Bummer’ are endlessly hummable.
They’re never going to win the Pulitzer for lyrical content – lines such as “My friend is sitting over there whoah-oh-oh-oh-oh, I’m going to sit with her” barely even raise the bar to idiot savant – but for goofy, dumb fun you’re not really going to get much better than this. Both brothers are excellent players – Jamin is a fine metronomic drummer and Jake can shred with the best of them – but there’s always likely to be some limit to what this two-piece are going to achieve as JEFF. But having already released a split single with Best Coast, and with their record label Infinity Cat penning a deal with Warner Bros., you may start to hear a lot more from the boys in coming months. Is the world really ready to hear from label mates Diarrhea Planet? Perhaps not, but in the meantime We Are the Champions is an entertaining and diverting listen.