Jordan O’Shea is a mysterious character. He appeared on the Oxford scene as the unassuming barista in Truck Record Store who sang heartfelt acoustic songs when he wasn’t making coffees. But before long he had founded Bear On A Bicycle Records and was releasing some of the most quirky and interesting musical projects in town (nobody will forget the Paddox vinyl that came in a 3kg concrete sleeve). Jordan’s own music took a left turn and he re-emerged as a morbid cinematic doo-wop revivalist – Jordan O’Shea and the Friday Night Film Club played shows with a backing band of projected images and supposed ghosts. Never one to stay still for long, his most recent release was a 12-minute symphony in four parts, which he described as “a film score to (yet again) an unmade film”.
On his new album This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Jordan has taken another step into the weird world he has been creating, and brings elements of all his previous incarnations along for the ride. Side A opens in a familiar doo-wop style with a song about the magic of cinema, but quickly moves through a Rocky Horror moment, a lounge jazz club tune and a menacing goth-pop rap to end on Horrorpop, which sounds exactly how you would expect: a hyped up Addams Family singalong with a prog wig-out ending.
Side B opens with a straight-up crooner of a love song called Cathedrals then eases gently into a lo-fi acoustic pop song about killing a house plant. From there we jump into a stadium rock number and an upbeat pyromaniac murder ballad and the album closes with Little We Have, an understated pop song whose infectious groove belies the lyrical theme of grinding poverty and despair. “Chasing success and the sadness it brings / This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Jordan has brazenly and refreshingly ignored genre distinctions on this album, producing a work of remarkable variety. But there are two lyrical threads that bind these songs to each other and to all of Jordan’s earlier work: death and cinema. Somehow it all makes sense. The production is decidedly lo-fi but at the same time massively ambitious – each song is overflowing with ideas, influences and unexpected sounds. This is an exciting album from one of Oxford’s most inventive musicians, and we’re proud to be releasing it on Beanie Tapes.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things is released on 2 November 2018 and is available to pre-order now.