Bas Jan – Instant Nostalgia
- David Pollock
- 20 November 2018
Trio's catchy EP follow-up to debut album impresses
Following the release of their debut album Yes I Jan earlier this year, this new EP from London-based trio Bas Jan bills itself as the inaugural release from 'Bas Jan 2.0'. Issued on Johnny Lynch's Eigg-based pocket indie factory Lost Map, the songs here are once again led by composer and mainstay Serafina Steer, but her former colleagues and founder members Sarah Anderson and Jenny Moore have been switched out for new members Emma Smith and Rachel Horwood.
What definitely remains is the band's esoteric sense of composition, which manages to sound entirely off the wall while retaining a solid heart of compulsive pop catchiness. The title track coasts in on a wobbling, two-note keyboard line and a chorus of 'na na na na na's, before settling on a kind of shuddering art-pop interrupted by ventures into folksy toytown psychedelia. It's difficult to put this music into words, as a delicately eclectic jumble of styles whose striking, laser-precise lyrics tie everything together.
When a word is invented for the phase of land development which comes after trendy art galleries and coffee shops, this music will bear that description, as Steer bemoans the death of her art studio in spiky terms; 'studios are getting shut down / everybody will be kicked out… we can't start reinventing some idea of the good old days.' The dynamism and poignancy of her words is thrilling, and it continues onto the Moogish futurism of 'Profile Picture'; 'I've changed my profile picture / 24 likes… 25…'. The song is a sensual slice of dynamic disco-pop, but it's lyrics are an evocation of the internalised, anti-social anxiety of social media living.
'No Time' is less acerbic but equally striking in its composition, a metronomic groove built around Horwood's tick-tocking drums, Smith's poignant violin lines and Steer's relatable meditation on being time-poor, while the closing 'I Am Animal' is an understated piece of mellow elegance whose gorgeous music masks the fact Steer's striking lyrical evocation of feeling and story isn't so readily apparent here. Still – this reboot has been an unqualified success.
Instant Nostalgia by Bas Jan is out on Lost Map on Fri 23 Nov.