Fever In Fever Out

by Luscious Jackson (1996, Capitol)

In light of the untimely breakup of Luscious Jackson, I felt it only appropriate to review the greatest accomplishment (in my humble opinion) of the band’s eight-year career.  “Fever In Fever Out” is probably the strongest example of the talent they possessed in terms of songwriting and musicianship.  Led by Jill Cunniff, Luscious Jackson has evolved with each release in all aspects of their sound.  Unfortunately, there will be no longer a fresh batch of songs to help me through all of the other countless mundane records that are produced with each passing year.

“Electric Honey” was the final project by the actual band as a whole, but according to their website, each member is working on her own individual project.  I was fortunate to catch a show on their last tour in Atlanta last October and they thoroughly impressed me.  They seemed to switch instruments endlessly after each song and proved their stage presence.  “Fever In Fever Out” reflects this skill and creativity, with each track bring forth an abundance of beautiful sounds.

In contrast to their most current album, “Electric Honey”, “Fever In Fever Out” is full of smoother lounge songs with eerie keys and Sea and Cake-esque basslines.  Each track has a certain “groove” to it, an almost a 70’s R&B feel, if you will.  It’s definitely not as clubby as “Electric Honey”, but there are danceable tunes throughout.  “Fever In Fever Out” contains a lot more variety and inventiveness compared to the upbeat, hotter sounding Electric Honey.  In regards to the “70’s” remark, there are speedier songs on the record that remind me of car chases from 70’s cop shows, what with the rapid hi-hat beat, wah-drenched guitar riffs, and funky basslines.  I keep picturing the video to “Sabotage” whenever I listen to “Soothe Yourself” or “One Thing”.  There’s definitely an undercover cop/spy aura reinforced throughout the 14 songs.

The opening track, “Naked Eye”, was released as a single along with about 5 other versions of it that all contained clubby remixes, but also had the same lyrics sung the same way.  I guess I’ll never understand remixes.  Why not add some new lyrics and create a new song?  At any rate, there were a few unreleased tracks added to the single.  Again, with the exception of “Naked Eye”, “Under Your Skin”, and a couple others, the album is one long martini mixture.

The smoothed out song would have to be “Mood Swing”.  There’s no better example of Jill’s sensual, seductive vocals floating over her ever-so-sleek bass riffs and haunting keys than this track.  One feels like walking in slow motion with a long stemmed cigarette as thick puffs of smoke slowly float in the air.  The slow-mo feel is present again in such lush pieces as “Don’t Look Back” and “Electric”, but with Gabrielle Glaser’s gorgeous voice this time.  Jill’s elegant use of the bass and her vocals appear once again on “Take A Ride”, one of the premier songs on the album. Though saddened and disappointed by the loss of one of the few evolving, original bands out there, I do look forward to the solo efforts to be released in the future.  My only hope is that their solo efforts don’t end up like so many other projects that have appeared out of the demise of a talented band.  It may be wiser to just start separate bands and stay away from names like “The Jill Cunniff Project”. It will be quite interesting to see the direction that each member takes and the variety of music that comes forth. Written by Nolan Shigley.