What does a trio do when it loses two of its members? Well, for one, it starts throwing around terms like “collaborative” and “fluid” in its press packets. With brothers Joshua and Zach Tillman gone, guitarist Matthew Doty was left to soldier on alone to create Luck Will Not Save Us From a Jackpot of Nothing, an EP written across state lines with the help of a few buddies and a lot of file-swapping.
As such, Jackpot sounds jerry-rigged — its mutating interiors bubbling with synthesizers, lithe guitar lines, comfy bits of piano and percussion that pool together in chaotic ripples of sunlight. Saxon Shore’s earlier efforts were less subtle, relying on the upper-body strength of the Tillman brothers’ live drum ‘n’ bass wallop. Now, with Doty left to his own devices (as well as those of his friends), tracks like “April 14,” though still lacking vocals, are lighter, airier affairs with synths that welcome the new day instead of guitars and drums that bring it to a crushing end.
There are moments when Jackpot treads dangerously into new age territory — the few bars when the drum machines drop out, the key goes major, the piano starts twinkling, and the fluff takes over. But these occasions are fleeting and far between. Fans of their previous work may miss that meatier sound — represented on Jackpot with a live video clip of a track from 2003’s Four Months of Darkness — but Saxon Shore remains a day trip worth taking.