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Jane Eyre | With Our Thoughts We Make the World

album review by John Powell

Jane Eyre | With Our Thoughts We Make the World

Jesse Rifkin began his musical career fronting The Wailing Wall, with two cosmic albums to chronicle his excellent songwriting. Letting the project go came as a surprise to many fans, and Jesse slipped away into the New York City shadows, reemerging a year later, and after a few months of social media teasing, as part of Jane Eyre.

With Our Thoughts We Make the World is excellent, through and through. Yes, is has a very indie sound to it, but unlike its contemporaries it’s neither noisy nor whispered. It’s a rock album- and, well, kind of weird, like Pink Floyd. It comes off as dark, but more than that it’s experiential. It’s actually more Smashing Pumpkins than it is The Decemberists, and in that way it leaves behind The Wailing Wall. In fact, where his voice used to sound like Colin Meloy, you now hear how much he sounds like Billy Corgan.

“Hazel Motets 1” rings out with poise and fuzz. It starts off calmly. “Do I seem/ to be something else/ beyond that lingering/ ring of bells?” Jesse sings like a man that once was a desperate artist but who has found his footing. Jane Eyre peppers in piano, soulful bass, and adds drums in ever so slowly. When the song erupts, it’s delicious. They never lose control. Each article of amplification and whir is thought out.

Jesse still has a lot to say on the first track, but boy, what a curveball on “Hazel Motets 2”, an eight minute instrumental that starts by dragging its feet in the mud before it lands into a sweet rock groove. I swear, this is 70s-style concept album steeped in 2000 hipster singer/songwriter tea. The guitar work with Jane Eyre is incendiary and could be overlooked in the sea of metaphorical and philosophical poetry, but “Hazel Motets 2” lets you know this is a new era of rock.

“Be Still, Be Silent” loses the rock completely. Quietly, Jesse sings, “It is doubling in size/ we let it go too long/ slowly sink and slowly rise/ we are struggling/ to be strong.” Inside his whirling mid tempo philosophizing is a man that once wrote egocentric songs, (not in a negative way; they were just personal), but now he’s older and he’s felt out the world. It’s amazing how far he's come.

In the same way, “Boy King Island” surrenders to the sound. It is a hit. Its melody is approachable and watery. The instrumentation tumbles like snow. “Apples rot in the garden/ never recognize their trees,” Jesse sings and the piano takes the wheel. At five minutes in, the music takes a turn, tightening from atmospheric glamour into tight rock. It’s a key track, for sure.

“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is also great. Using 80s synth, it takes on a new persona, with glitz guitar. It’s clearly homage to originators like The Cure, without every being cheesy.

The black spot is the closer, “Bells Bells Bells”. For whatever reason, Jane Eyre cuts their rock cables and sinks into awkward melody and overly-affected vocals. I don’t know what they were going for but all the glory set in stone by “Hazel Motets 1” is lost for three minutes. Luckily, they pull it together after that, and the last song- just when you’ve lost hope- finds its groove, and honestly, the second half of the song is some of the best stuff on the album.

So what’s the deal? What’s going on here? It’s just a damn good album. It sounds great. The songs are well written and composed. It’s dark, ironic, and it rocks. This might be Jane Eyre’s first album, but the musicians behind it are seasoned, so cross your fingers they stick with it and keep doing what they’re doing, because it’s good.

Bottom line: What the hell? This album came out of nowhere, but it’s really, really good indie rock n’ roll that takes Smashing Pumpkins and Grizzly Bear and makes a soup.

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