Published Jun 03, 2019Before Jawbox embarks on a summer tour, the DC post-hardcore band's vocalist/guitarist J. Robbins is releasing Un-Becoming, perhaps as a way to wrap up the latest chapter of his 33-year musical career.
Although presented as Robbins' first solo LP, many of the album's 12 tracks were originally written between 2015 and 2018, as the followup to his 2011 album, Office of Future Plans, by the eponymously titled band. Pulling together his former drummer in Burning Airlines, Pete Moffett on drums, and Office of Future Plans' Brooks Harlan and Gordon Withers, much of Un-Becoming stays within Robbins' comfort zone, as the anthemic "Your Majesty" and "Soldier On" work off simple guitar lines and unruffled melodies.
But the LP's best numbers benefit from Robbins' penchant for incorporating new sounds into his oeuvre, including cello on the moody "Anodyne," drum machines on the instrumental "Kintsugi" and icy electronics on the slow jam, "Radical Love."
Also known as a celebrated producer for bands like the Dismemberment Plan and Jets to Brazil, it's Robbins' puzzling and frustratingly bright and crisp production style that hampers many of these songs, as "Abandoned Mansions" and "Stella Vista" tread mall punk territory. Un-Becoming may have started as a new endeavour for Robbins, but ultimately ended as a clearing house of ideas. (Dischord)