Queer Jane - Amen Dolores (2020)
Something that you may not know about the Florkster is that he also has a day job. This may come as a surprise to many of you, seeing as he earns big bucks already from the higher-ups at Jablka. But inflation, recreational substances, and other circumstances beyond his control compel him to moonlight a bit on the side. And so, the Florkster supplements his income by supporting himself and his bad habits as an English teacher. You may wonder how this is so, especially regarding the numerous spelling errors and occasional confusing, grammatical mistake, but these can be attributed more to carelessness and an aging brain. Yet despite this sloppiness and inattention to the quality of work, I still appreciate well-spoken (or sung) English when I hear it. And if I were to guess without having any information beforehand, then I wouldn’t be able to tell where Queer Jane originated from. They could be either from California or Toronto or southern England. The lyrics and the way they are sung are at such a proficient level that anyone would be in disbelief that they were non-native speakers of English. Yet, like other bands in Slovakia who see the value of singing in English such as the Peter Bič Project, 52 Hertz Whale, or The Last Days of Jesus, the trio from Bratislava is fully aware they can reach a wider audience while satisfying their own fans back home.
They’ve also been praised heavily by the Slovak Press and have received heavy acclaim from fans and press abroad, namely Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK. And so, I was pleased to get the chance to hear and review this Bratislava indie band and their catchy melodies and choruses. Take the title track Amen Dolores, for instance, “please move your chair so I can figure you out, I’ve yet to figure you out...” or its follow-up “I went to see my face, coz I never could find out why you hate to see me smile…” Both tunes are so chill with top-notch production and written beautifully. A Minor Crisis is full of lullaby harmonies and reminiscent of the 60s with its Beatlesque (did I spell that right?) tempo. A Happy Drunk is folksy and Dylanesque with the addition of the harmonica and reached more than 630,000 streams on Spotify in 2019. And although Gerard Love might be the best track on the whole album, my favourite is Good Morning Mom, a tune that hits home with my own relationship to my mother (yes, the Florkster has a mom - Mrs. Flork). This track is full of acoustic and electric guitars, as well as other sounds that were born in the 60s, yet have endured the last 50 or so years.
Every track on this album is so well-thought out and timed perfectly. I also like the final track, Sunrise Sunrise, a soothing ballad of positive energy that leaves the listener with a feeling of happiness as he listens to the album again. Amen Dolores is by far one of the best albums produced in Slovakia in 2020. And I’m not praising it because it is sung in English or sung extremely well. My ears go beyond whatever language a song is sung in and hears only the language of the music itself. But Amen Dolores stands out for its high level of creativity and song-writing, its employment of a variety of instruments that fit meticulously well together, and an overall chemistry that is felt among its band members. And although it is somewhat revivalist, the compositions themselves are timeless. It’s as if the songs missed a train in an era of great song writing and only arrived just now. The wait, of course, has definitely been worth it.