VINE, released in 2017, is the latest effort from indie singer-songwriter, Jen Gloeckner. However, it’s not fair to label her as simply a singer-songwriter. The lush soundscapes she composes on VINE are so detailed and melodic that it’s hard to believe the entire album was recorded in her bedroom. The album touches on nearly as many genres as there are songs on it, but the overarching sound would best be labelled as dream pop. This turns the album’s biggest weakness into its biggest strength. There’s a lack of tracks that instantly grab your attention, but the album is very strong all the way through as each song subtly bleeds into the next. However, the more time you spend with it the more the individual tracks reveal their defining merits. The trance of “Firefly (War Dance)”, the electronic dance elements of “Prayers”, and the acoustic-focused “Colors” all capture different elements of her sound without a single one sounding out of place. Dream pop is a hard genre to do well but Jen Gloeckner manages to keep the music captivating and engaging throughout.
VINE opens with the glittering keys and ambient electronics of introductory title track, “Vine”. The instrumental, “Firefly (War Dance)”, is the standout song on the album on the first listen through. It recalls the defining song from The xx, “Intro”. That’s not to discredit Gloeckner’s vocals, as they complement the music perfectly, it’s a credit to her as a composer. “Breathe” is a synth-heavy jam that is punctuated by piercing electric guitar near its end. Jen’s singing style channels pieces of Lana Del Rey and Victoria Legrand of Beach House, creating a haunting but powerful addition to the music. “Ginger Ale” and “The Last Thought” both showcase her strong voice and bass playing. The way the latter song sways along to her harmonies make it another standout.
The B Side opens with “Counting Sheep”, which quickly turned into one of my favorites on the album. The addition of cello guides the lull of the song along. It’s entrancing, soothing, and makes you want to sleep in the best way possible. “Prayers” is another memorable song with the incorporation of dance elements making for an upbeat climax to VINE. The faint acoustic guitar in “Colors” is a nice addition to the already layered sound and gives it a slight Americana vibe. The album concludes with “Row With The Flow” and “Sold”, which are not the most memorable tracks individually, but wrap VINE up with the same fervor it began with.
Although Jen’s music has made it into film and received worldwide airplay, she’s definitely due for more recognition. VINE would be best appreciated by anyone into dream pop, ambient electronic, or haunting, lower end female vocals. Gloeckner excels in each one of those and more.
Pressing Details: This is the black vinyl pressing of the album released by Spinning Head Records. It’s a solid pressing and the album sounds great on vinyl. The vocals are distinct and powerful and none of the background instrumentation seems to get lost in the mix. There’s very little surface noise and the record itself comes in an inner sleeve that features lyrics and credits for each song. The album was mixed and mastered so well that it sounds studio recorded, and the vinyl pressing only accentuates the quality.
VINE is available on vinyl, on CD, or digitally from Jen Gloeckner’s Bandcamp here.