I’ve never been to Italy, but I’ve watched The Godfather Trilogy and the Food Network enough to foster an ill-informed sense of what goes on there. You drink red wine, you dance, you sing, you have huge weddings that combine those three, and occasionally you kill a small-time don in an apartment building hallway. And while vacationing there is probably fantastic, I guarantee that if you live in Italy, it ain’t anything special. After a while, the flavor of the chianti fades, the tango just doesn’t cut it anymore, and your mate loses the ability to hit the high notes. Sweet Jones, the latest release from 9 Lazy 9, is an appealing album taken one song at a time. But after one, then another, and yet another, it loses potency and simply fails to stay interesting.
Keir Fraserello and Giacomo Braddellini (aka James Braddell, the man behind Ninja Tune’s Funki Porcini) whip up a dish that combines moody electronics with organic jazz, which looks downright mouth-watering from afar. Every now and then, it tastes as good as it looks. The peppy horns and hi-hat shuffle of “Keep Going Daddy” make you crave more, and by the end of the track you’re excited and waiting for the next song to keep your momentum going, to yank you off your feet and maybe even make you start dancing. But then they drop you into the flaccid muck of “Big Six,” which plods at best. Those who have the staying power to make it to “The Flying Nun” will be rewarded with a funky little guitar ditty and some buzzing horn-type noises that make you feel like swirling a martini with a haughty laugh. But in the meantime, you’ve got to make it through a bunch of songs that sound relatively interchangeable.
“Grazing Maize” offers the most appropriate summation of Sweet Jones. It starts out like an ’80s TV theme, but soon grows into a promising melody with some snappy keyboards — and then promptly ends after a minute and thirteen seconds. Why? No idea. It could have been the best song on the album. Of course, you can say that about the rest of them as well, but at the same time, you really can’t say that about any of them.