Sarah Jaffe, The Body Wins
Skirting namby-pamby indie-rock convention in a world of sex and sensuality
Look, we could sidestep the similarities between Sarah Jaffe’s new album and last year’s Strange Mercy by St. Vincent. At a certain point, though, avoiding the obvious just feels disingenuous. And, besides, Strange Mercy is great, so the comparison is a flattering one. Like St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark), Sarah Jaffe grew up in what Texans rather grandly refer to as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, which is presumably how both women came to know and work with producer John Congleton, formerly of the Dallas noise-rock outfit the Paper Chase. It’s Congleton we can thank to some degree for the bottom-heavy groove with which The Body Wins skirts namby-pamby indie-rock convention; the album, rest assured, comes by its title honestly. But if tunes like “The Way Sound Leaves a Room” and the horn-enriched title track seem to showcase Congleton’s delicately brutal production, they also reveal how much Jaffe has grown as a singer since her 2010 debut, Suburban Nature. Back then she was using her big voice to give coffee-shop-folk arrangements a dreamy glaze. Now, in “Fangs” and “Glorified High,” she sounds awake to a world of sex and sensuality.