Jape - The Monkeys in the Zoo Have More Fun Than MeThursday 02 Dec 2004
Trust Me I'm A Thief Records – 2004 – 37 minutes
Jape is the latest artistic guise for Richie Egan, who also plays with David Kitt from time to time and is in cult instrumental group The Redneck Manifesto.
Here we find him adding lyrics and vocals to the guitar mix, to stunning effect on the album's opener and standout track, 'Floating'. It has already become a firm favourite among DJs on late night alternative music shows since its single release.
Part drugs story and part love song, the track also features quirky instrumentation and even some Gregorian chanting. The lyrics of 'Floating' have a definite feel of amateur philosophy at 5am to them, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
While the rest of the record never matches the heights of the first song, it nonetheless has some interesting gems. 'How Much Light' is like an anthem for the slacker generation, making sarcastic references to students with "marketing books and cotton shirts", and noting wryly "what a waste (it is)/to be lazy when you're young".
Some of the other tracks find Jape in very different philosophical form – on 'The Hardest Thing To Do', Egan is totally despondent, and the contrast between the almost spoken verses and singing choruses display his talents and limitations as a frontman in one song.
'To The Sea', by turns, is altogether brighter, declaring "Today is the first day of the rest of your life/You should pack your bags and go /wherever you like". It also showcases some of the considerable array of instruments proudly listed in the liner notes, and shows the influence of his Redneck Manifesto work, especially during the guitar workout added to the end of the song.
However, all the guitars threaten to take over in places, and the last few tracks seem more like guitar studies than songs. Still, this eight-song album shows how Egan is different from the scores of acoustic guitar-wedded singer-songwriters around the city, and offers Dubliners the promise of a musically-aware cult artist they can call their own.
Tracklisting: Floating – Reminding Me – How Much Light – The Hardest Thing To Do – To The Sea – A Journey Is Just A Memory – Autumn Summer – Always Knew