The first taste from JR JR forthcoming fourth record, “Same Dark Places” follows suit with what the duo does best: hook-dependent melodic pop menageries that feel more clever than sincere. If the duo’s 2015 hit “Gone” was a movie trailer for some generic teenage girl coming of age tale, then that would make “Same Dark Places” an ad for anti-depressant medication, the kind where the black and white shifts to color during the narration of common side-effects ending with cartoon bluebirds landing on the shoulder of some hesitantly happy real-life woman in a cardigan.
There are many masterful elements at play here, however, all of which make it nearly impossible to hate this song (which is what I really want to do.) First, there’s singer Josh Epstein’s thoughtful lyrical cadence. The words swell and bounce in such a way that his inflection alone could be listed in the credits as an instrument. And then, of course, there’s their reoccurring penchant for crafty arrangement and production. The fusion of Andrew Bird vibes (the layering of manic horns and sorrowful strings) meets The Lion King for Sega Genesis (this I can’t explain) meets that “LIVE. LAUGH. LOVE” wall hanging in your parents guest bedroom (okay, I’ll stop) would fool you into believing that JR JR woke up one day with this exact song, as you hear it now, in their heads. The drums feel like an afterthought and the lack of an end-point or clear resolve sink this track into “can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head-but-I-won’t-remember-it-five-years-from-now” territory. Although it was likely intended to be an anthem for swimming against the current, “Same Dark Places” merely treads water.
Let the light in and listen to “Same Dark Places” below:
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