Florida trio Jacuzzi Boys have ditched the sand-specked garage rock of their No Reasons debut to shake the glittering snow globe of 70s-style glam rock for their third, self-titled album. Trimming the tough out of almost all their tunes and relying on two-bit rhymes, Jacuzzi Boys ends up with a crowd-pleasing, easy-listening vibe for the younger set, cutting the difference between pop, punk, ambient shit, and light psych to make something that barely rises above the sum of its scrubbed-up parts.
Like a feel-good movie without a soul, Jacuzzi Boys pleases from first note to finale, but leaves you feeling a little empty at the end. “Heavy Horse,” for all its sensitive soloing and bop-along bongos, sings in circles about running until you feel like you’re going nowhere. “Hotline” has a hell of a bad-boy beat, but it does little more than repeat the same sexy-whisper nonsense — all effect and no affect. “Black Gloves” plays with noir romantic symbols of black gloves and smoke, but it’s as airy as singer Gabriel Alcala promises he’ll be to his lady. As many times as the Jacuzzis repeat a phrase, it’s rarely an interesting one, and so every would-be pop number falls short of catchy and nothings feels new.
But while the point of the puzzle remains unclear, the places where the pieces do come together are pretty brilliant. In the sizzling and early stand-out “Double Vision,” Alcala pulls his best Blue Steel, rocketing off into space with a slight sneer. He draws his words out and plays with his tongue over a pulsing beat that proves the Jacuzzi Boys aren’t dying slowly to David Bowie – they’re alive! “Over the Zoom” takes it back to the spirit in the sky, building an anthemic, heavy track that Gene Simmons could wag his tongue to in slow-motion.
Speaking of slow motion, “Ultraglide” ends the self-titled album like it’s the soundtrack to Brian Slade’s ascension. A little goofy and playful on purpose with its ah-ahs, the track turns the Jacuzzi Boys into sarcastic, glitter-covered angels, rising through the clouds. Somewhat trance-like, the track is still more Big Star than Velvet Underground, and the Boys seem fully aware of the slightly tongue-in-cheek tribute to the disco era they’ve produced here.
Super-smooth and shimmering, the new album is the result of a slightly rockier road from No Reasons to the “oh-ohs” of Glazin’ and all the 7”s in between. But with their newly shaved sound, the Jacuzzi Boys’ maturity has started to mute their highs and lows, creating a monotonous middle full of mist and mirrors. The big culprit is the band’s vague lyrics built on predictable rhymes. While the lack in message is made up for in punching rhythms, mostly mellow melodies, and a good mix of glam and garage, it holds the band back from making anything as memorable as Marc Bolan or catchy as Cheap Trick. With the exception of a few great singles, the record blurs from one song to the next, and leaves only a sparkling smear behind.