An intriguing debut that comes remarkably close to reaching its potential consistency, Jukeboxer’s In the Food Chain might be forced into yet another miscast subgenre under the tedious heading of “folktronica.” Like Manitoba’s Dan Snaith and Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden, Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Noah Wall serves as the primary governing body of an insular studio world sparsely populated by friends and collaborators. But despite borrowing some extended instrumental tangents from the post-rock world and employing more than its share of bells and whirs, Wall’s album is rooted in acoustic guitar cycles and the distant intonations of vocalist Amy Jones.
In fact, Jukeboxer’s material works best when built within traditional pop structure, allowing sonic experiments to settle around the edges of a refrain. Songs like “Terrestrial” and “Chance Openings” leave room for simple overlying folk harmony to rise above the din of multi-tracked guitars, and it makes for stunning atmospherics.
In the Food Chain builds from a minimal percussive foundation, and finger-picked overdubs like “Opportunist” and “Pilgrim” don’t offer quite as much substance as its meatier selections. Still, Wall’s studied skills in composition and home studio manipulation are evident throughout the album, and his willingness to experiment so readily bodes very well for future activities.