There was a sense not just of effortlessness but also of inevitability in Javelin’s demo release, last year’s Jamz n Jemz. It was nostalgic, whimsical, capturing much of what indie pop was about in 2009 while being independent of any hastily-christened scene or movement. Tracks like “Lindsay Brohan” and “STD Fury” were shots of unadulterated, effervescent glee into our earholes; that George Langford and Tom van Buskirk were clearly getting a genuine kick out of their music was as refreshing as the songs themselves.
After plenty of blog buzz (I doubt anybody didn’t hear “Vibrationz”) and a couple 12-inches on Thrill Jockey comes the inevitable Real Deal release, No Más. Fully aware of the primary source of their popularity, the album opens with “Vibrationz,” which they’ve somehow managed to stretch in length to over three minutes. About a third of No Más, in fact, is revisted material from Jamz n Jemz, and you can’t help but conclude that they felt compelled to beef up everything here, under the assumption that people won’t go for an album of 25 half-baked ideas. But that’s what we loved about Jamz n Jemz in the first place: it was scattershot and unassuming, constantly morphing in a way that’s not good for singles, mix tapes, or radio play, but that’s perfectly suited for full-album listening, especially in this ADD age.
No Más has three-fifths as many tracks in the same amount of time, and for the most part, each track outstays its welcome. Rehashes like “Intervales Theme” suffer from increased density; extra layers of percussion and guitar smother the charm of the little details in what was once an unassuming little piece. Its original false ending was one of Jamz n Jemz’ best moments, and it’s lost here. Similarly, what feels like the pandering addition of lyrics to “Mossy Woodland” weighs the track down, and their lack of necessity betrays an off-putting self-consciousness.
Add to that the clubby New Wave additions of “On It On It” and “Moscow 1980,” whose anonymous electro-tropes simply don’t suit them, and you’re left with something of a disappointment. Would I be so judgmental if we hadn’t heard the ‘underdeveloped’ Javelin last summer? Maybe not. But despite all its sparkly, visceral indulgence, No Más serves mostly to remind us that maybe there wasn’t that much potential there to begin with.