I have listened through this album more times than any other record prior to reviewing it. I’ve wanted to give it the time it deserved. I’ve wanted to soak it up, be able to sing along to each of the tracks, and really engage myself in each of the fifteen songs here before putting finger to keyboard. I’m not quite sure why that’s been the case with A Good Day For The Damned.
What I do know, though, is that this, the band’s fifth full length, has been worth the lengthy wait. There are some genuinely brilliant tracks here, which will resonate on a musical, personal and emotional level with any listener; while the song between those are also strong and display a progression in sound for the Amsterdam-based four-piece.
On listening to this record as well, to me it sort-of takes the shape of a concept album. There are some clear story-threads which punctuate throughout the record, which rear their heads more at certain times than others. That loose story framework for me elevates this from a very good to an excellent album, and really resonated with me.
As ever on a Jaya The Cat record, there’s a glorious mix of genres here. There’s some decadently bass-lead reggae and dub elements, some sharp-as-a-razor punk rock, as well as the classic, whisky-soaked party sound Jaya The Cat are well known for. Each element is exceptionally well-judged: vintage Jaya, if you will.
Fairly rarely on an album, the songs here actually improve as you get deeper into the tracklist. A number of my highlights are way down the fifteen-strong list: with the exception of the brilliant Black Heart. This is one of the earlier-mentioned decadent reggae-led grooves: it’s a laid-back reverberator of a track which’ll stick in your head from the moment you first hear it. There’s a maturity here which perhaps previous Jaya The Cat records haven’t displayed: it’s a lot smoother and rounded. That’s not to say that it loses any of the Jaya charm, though: quite the opposite.
Wreckage is the next track worthy of a mention. Here we have a brilliant example of laid-back twenty-first ska / punk, with the verses offering a tonic to the very slightly sharper, organ-led edges of the chorus. Again, it’s catchy as hell, and there’s some incredible lines such as “and now I’m sweeping through the rubble / searching for my sanity”.
Track ten, In Love, might be my favourite on the whole album, though. In the emotional big dipper the album takes you on, it’s a real crack of slightly unexpected sunlight in the darkness. Again, it’s a deep reggae groove with some incredible brass in the background, and some gorgeous isolated guitar solo work. It’s incredibly catchy again, and suits any mood and situation, be that a dark, lonely night spent in your flat drinking heavily, or an early morning drive with the sun coming up.
The album’s title track, another real high point, reminds me of early work from The Skints but with a Jaya The Cat flavour: and trust me, that’s a pretty delicious flavour. Laid-back and groove-laden verses are battered out of the park by massive wedges of sawing punk guitars in the choruses, and it works together just so fucking well.
The final song I want to pull out is Mad At You, which has a brilliant mid-00s underground UK punk vibe. There’s the ska bounce and the crashy yet catchy choruses, littered with riffs and melody aplenty. Lyrically, this is once again on point and broken down into short bursts in it’s delivery, which adds a certain aggression and attitude to the track. It works really, really well.
So, how to summarise? Essentially, this is vintage Jaya The Cat, but it’s vintage Jaya The Cat for 2017. It’s refreshing real world attitude, combined with it’s punchy and catchy tracks, ensure A Good Day For The Damned really hits the spot.