There’s no question Ben Larsen, guitarist/vocalist for Vancouver three-piece The Jins, owns underwear with Kurt Cobain’s face on them. On The Jins’ new EP, Death Wish, Larsen proudly sports his Cobain drawers over his pants, channeling a familiar melodic yowl while meditating on loss, hopelessness, and existential dread.
“I feel like I tuned in late,” Larsen growls on “Death Wish.” The band – as a fuzz-washed trio operating fewer than 150 miles from grunge’s ground zero – do appear like grunge leftovers. Reminiscent? Without argument. Ersatz Nirvana wannabes? Never. They embody the spirit of grunge but interpret it for modern audiences.
Start your Death Wish experience with the title track: bent-iron guitar, construction site drum; subtle grooving bass, perfectly placed feedback, the guitar solo’s drunken, chromatic nose-dive, the ferocious, bestial scream at the end… bueno.
“She Said” stars a crunchy riff uncannily similar to Jack White’s “Sixteen Saltines.” This track’s melodic verses are pleasantly counterpointed by Larsen’s gravelly, wailing chorus.
The third and fourth songs are low points. “On Your Own” ping-pongs uneasily between John Frusciante and pop-grunge. It’s celery: not bad for you, but not very interesting. “Throw It Away” is an apt title, straight up.
“Pop Song” toes that grungy line between tongue-in-cheek and earnestness. The Jins disparage the whoa-heavy chorus, but it’s not so different from Larsen’s underwear-hero crowing “Yeah!” repeatedly on “Lithium.”
Death Wish’s highlights outweigh its lowlights… especially if you’re dying to dust off your flannels and Doc Martens.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: THE JINS – DEATH WISH
G. Roe Upshaw